If you were to ask me who my favorite Hadid sister is in some sort of neo-capitalist crypto-feminist bonding ritual while you saw me eating alone in the car in the office park plaza during lunch and took pity on me, I’ll always say Yolanda Foster-Hadid. Yolanda is Gigi, Bella, and Anwar’s mother and the former star of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. She isn’t a sister, though I’m sure many men approach her with lines like “Mother and daughter?! You could be sisters!” when she’s out and about with her spawn (probably at LA’s The Nice Guy).
There’s a lot to try and understand about the interpersonal dynamics of this show, but for the purpose of this piece, I’ll just tell you what’s important: Yolanda suffers from chronic Lyme disease, last season’s arc focused on her castmates accusing her of not really having Lyme disease, and, most importantly, among her many experimental health treatments, Yolanda introduced most of America to cryotherapy.
Cryotherapy is a treatment in which a client (let’s call her, I don’t know, Corinna?) gets naked and locks herself into a stand-up device that looks like a tanning bed while fumes of liquid nitrogen as cold as -220 degrees Fahrenheit rock her into fight or flight mode. The cold temperature tells her body that it’s high time to become a survivalist, and all her blood rushes to her organs. Once she steps out of the ice coffin, that blood rushes outward again, revitalizing mind, body, spirit and libido. Her head sticks out of the chamber, which makes for fun snapshots taken on her cracked iPhone by her cryotherapist Michael. Corinna gets to wear used Ugg slippers and what were functional shower loofah gloves, too.
For three minutes of quite literally freezing my tits off, cryotherapy cost 90 dollars. I’m no Margaret Hamilton (she wrote the code to get us to the moon) (I’m more of a Margaret Thatcher, if only when it comes to my predilection for silk bow blouses and my legendarily conservative ideology), but I’m pretty sure that means that it’s 30 dollars a minute. Sure Michael, who owned the Upper East Side basement gym that had a corner cordoned off for the chamber, had a nice bedside manner, and yeah, I got to taste luxury by wearing an Ugg boot, but that seems like too much money for not enough Yolanda-bearing results.
In a perfect world, this weekly column would just be me trying out the luxury medical treatments Yolanda undergoes. But I digress. I shivered in the tolerable cold for one minute, no worse than any February during an Upper Midwestern childhood, then thought I was having a heart attack for another minute due to the intended “fight or flight” effect, and then counted seconds in my head to distract myself from the pain of my flesh sacs hardening under the freezer burn of liquid nitrogen.
Michael kept calling me “Corinna,” which is a beautiful name, but not mine. When he announced that I had thirty seconds left in the chamber, I powered through by fantasizing about life as a New York woman named Corinna. It was perfect. I had a job where I put on clothes during the daytime, didn’t dread every time my parents left a voicemail because I immediately assume a loved one died in a tragic accident, and also owned a Soda Stream.
Michael handed me a robe over the top of the chamber and let his daughter and fellow cryotherapist Demi –– I can only assume that this is a storied family business and they are fifth and sixth generation cryotherapists –– took over. Demi put me on an elliptical, in the Uggs and the robe. I wasn’t wearing any underwear or a bra, because when I commit, I commit. As I pumped my legs, I watched my nether regions thawing and flapping in the wall-length mirror in front of me. A man behind me walked on a treadmill at 2.4 speed, watching CNN and hopefully not actively being a perv.
“Alright Corinna,” said Demi. “You should stay on here for five minutes, and you should already be feeling better. And your skin looks amazing.” Like one season RHoBC star Kathryn Edwards’s tenure on RhoBC, it didn’t last.
I left, walking into the blistering Manhattan heat. Outside the confines of the gym, after being upsold (10 sessions for the low, low price of $700!) and made to give away the Uggs, I scowled. As I hustled down Fifth Avenue with my enormous backpack, the cryotherapy was already a distant memory to me, like the cold showers I’d take to shock my system awake in high school when I stayed up too late watching episodes of Next I’d TiVoed.
And then I realized that maybe…Corinna was Yolanda all along? Yolanda has everything, and yet, she’s still searching. Not for money, not for beauty and not even for a higher power, but for health. For the ability to walk in a fashionable one piece down a pristine strip of Malibu oceanfront with her too-hot-to-be-that-young son Anwar; to watch the video of Gigi attacking that freak who picked her up on the street over and over again without falling into an unwilling sleep; to ride horses alongside Bella or whatever it is she does for fun these days; to quit the franchise knowing that her star may fade but her life will surely improve. And isn’t that we’re all looking for? A shock of cold, a flushed complexion and the ability to wish for more for yourself while standing naked in a cryogenic chamber.
Claire Carusillo is a freelance and fiction writer in New York. She writes a weekly beauty newsletter offering off-label product usage advice. Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis; Creative direction by Emily Zirimis.