September 2, 2013

What People Really Look Like


Women have cellulite, men have silly buttocks.

I’ve been a massage therapist for many years, now. I know what people look like. People have been undressing for me for a long time. I know what you look like: a glance at you, and I can picture pretty well what you’d look like on my table. 

Let’s start here with what nobody looks like: nobody looks like the people in magazines or movies. Not even models. Nobody. Lean people have a kind of rawboned, unfinished look about them that is very appealing. But they don’t have plump round breasts and plump round asses. You have plump round breasts and a plump round ass, you have a plump round belly and plump round thighs as well. That’s how it works. (And that’s very appealing too.)

Woman have cellulite. All of them. It’s dimply and cute. It’s not a defect. It’s not a health problem. It’s the natural consequence of not consisting of photoshopped pixels, and not having emerged from an airbrush.

Men have silly buttocks. Well, if most of your clients are women, anyway. You come to male buttocks and you say -- what, this is it? They’re kind of scrawny and the tissue is jumpy because it’s unpadded; you have to dial back the pressure, or they’ll yelp.

Adults sag. It doesn’t matter how fit they are. Every decade, an adult sags a little more. All of the tissue hangs a little looser. They wrinkle, too. I don’t know who put about the rumor that just old people wrinkle. You start wrinkling when you start sagging, as soon as you’re all grown up, and the process goes its merry way as long as you live. Which is hopefully a long, long time, right?

Everybody on a massage table is beautiful. There are really no exceptions to this rule. At that first long sigh, at that first thought that “I can stop hanging on now, I’m safe” – a luminosity, a glow, begins. Within a few minutes the whole body is radiant with it. It suffuses the room: it suffuses the massage therapist too. People talk about massage therapists being caretakers, and I suppose we are: we like to look after people, and we’re easily moved to tenderness. But to let you in on a secret: I’m in it for the glow. 

I’ll tell you what people look like, really: they look like flames. Or like the stars, on a clear night in the wilderness.

--
reposted in Elephant Journal

245 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I'm not trained but self taught, and I never accept payment for my gifts. I too Love the energy from those I work on. it's best when they fall asleep as I continue.
      Blessings :)

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    2. :-) the best way to fall asleep!

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    3. That is so comforting. Thank you.

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    4. Well...the overall sentiment is spot on. BUT there are some people who actually look that good. Genetics rule the day.

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    6. What a beautiful way of looking at the natural body. We need more of your positive attitude in our cities. Thank you for your wonderful view!

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    7. Finally...someone says it in a way that is non-sexist and beautifully honest. Thank you so much for the imagery of flame!

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    8. Wow.. beautiful..
      That is what people look like.. they are..

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    1. Aw, thank you, Nina. I feel ridiculously fortunate to be able to do this for a living.

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    2. Thats it, I'm moving to Oregon! (From South Australia)
      Congrats on the gorgeous article.

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  3. This is beautiful. Just beautiful. Your clients are lucky.

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  4. You have such a great insight. Simply beautiful.

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  5. wow...I wish I lived closer to Portland. Nicely written :)

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  6. Amber shared this on FB. Lovely article. Thanks for writing it!

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  7. Hey, thanks so much, all. (Yikes, when Amber links you, page views spike for realz!)

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  8. :-) LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS!!!!!

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  9. Go Kaleo referred me. Just so beautiful. I wish I lived in Portland - you are a treasure for sure.

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  10. Love this! I am a massage therapist in MN, and I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said! The glow a person has when they let go and relax is beautifying!

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  11. Wow. If I'm ever in Portland, I think I'll need a massage. From you.

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  12. I am booked in for a massage this Fri. I love and hate the touch at the same time. Always wondering what they are thinking. Hopefully they all have views like yours.

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  13. You are wonderful!

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  14. This is beautiful. Let us know if you come to the East Coast!

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  15. I have never had a massage. Always worried about the "undressing" part. I am very self conscious. Linked this article from Go Kaleo, but I DO live in Portland. Beautiful Sentiment! Maybe I will call.....

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    1. You can skip the undressing part, too. Shoes, bra straps, and belt buckles are problematic, but the rest is entirely your call. I've had clients who prefer to be in sweat pants and t-shirt. It works fine. http://dalefavier.blogspot.com/2011/11/why-we-dont-tell-you-how-much-to.html

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    2. You get used to undressing very quickly. If you have to have a relationship with your massage therapist you begin to trust them. I saw my massage therapist sometimes up to 2x weekly for neck and shoulder issues. Absolutely invaluable, as that and physical therapy gave me my life back from daily headaches. Massage (even pain relief massage which is SO different than relaxation massage)is so wonderful. I hope you'll allow yourself to relax and trust the professional massage therapist. If it helps-remember they've seen it all, all body types, all scars, all sags, everything.
      Margi H.
      Olympia, WA

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  16. Thanks so much. This isn't just me: I think most massage therapists feel this way. You don't get into this business unless you like bodies. It always grieves me when I hear of people hesitating to get massage because they wonder if their bodies are "good enough." That's just not where we live, not what we're thinking about, at all. Our clients don't come from central casting: they're just your friends and neighbors. Every sort of body comes under our hands, and every one is met with gratitude. It's a huge act of trust, getting up onto a massage table and letting someone touch you, and that's my main response to it -- gratitude, and a certain reverence for the mystery of embodiment.

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    1. Graduated from a two-year program out of Sutherland-Chan, Toronto, Ontario, in 1990. Have been astonished ever since that people agree to surrender their bodies to my touch. Never forget the privilege it is to work with people in such an intimate way. Thank-you for your writing, Dale. Touched me deeply. Lisa

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    2. "Our clients don't come from central casting" made me laugh - I could easily be your client, if I lived near you (I'm on the east coast now), because I LOVE a good massage... but the folks who come from Central Casting, including myself, DO look like your clients! Central Casting is a clearinghouse agency for REAL-looking people, like myself, to work in the background of film and television. If you watch any film or television and allow your eyes to wander away from the main characters, you'll see me and my friends, from Central Casting, looking like real people, who just long for a massage therapist with your insight. (I made my living working for Central and other background casting agencies for many years before I moved).

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    3. Hah! I imagined central casting entirely differently. But still, they must weed anyone out if they look too different or "interesting," eh? You can't have extras grabbing the eye. Some sociologist should do a biometrics study and see how the people chosen by such an agency differ from the general population. But anyway, thanks for correcting my ignorance, Emelle!

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  17. Wish that I were in Portland. I'd call for a session, for sure.
    You are an inspirational being, Dale. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  18. will you please ...please...marry me?

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  19. Good morning Dale,

    Your words have moved me to tears, such kindness.

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  20. I don't go for massages for the reason you mentioned above. I don't ever think I'm good enough. Your words have made me think twice about that now. Is it possible that most massage therapists view the human body as you do? I wish I were in Portland! Any chance you are coming to New York any time soon??? This was a beautiful piece. You are a true treasure!

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    1. I can't speak for Dale (but I suspect that he will agree), but after 35 years of similar work, I promise you that the vast majority of therapists DO NOT judge you for how you look, but on how they can help...there is beauty in everyone!

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  21. Beautiful view and beautifully expressed too.

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  22. Beautiful, and puts my self conscious self at ease! Found your post via my friend Andrea Hayes via Go Kaleo. If I ever get to Portland, I'm looking you up for sure. If you ever get to the East coast, I'll look you up even sooner! Blessings to you

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  23. is it sad this made me cry a little.. :) I too would so be on your table in a heartbeat if you were in the Portland near me..

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  24. Yes. Thank you. Read, digested, and shared.

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  25. This made me tear up, especially the last sentences about what people really look like. I want to be a flame, I want to be, I want to believe I am more than this world has convinced me I am.

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    1. :-) the quickest way is to practice seeing other people that way, I think. In a gentle, "what if this person, that person, and even that person, was really a flame?" way. But you may also need to move away from people who are telling you a different story about yourself.

      Meditation was the road for me, and it took me by surprise: I used to roll my eyes (to myself) when teachers would talk about spirit, and "basic goodness." I had no idea what they were talking about. Now it seems obvious to me, it's difficult for me even to reconstruct that narrow, cold, constricted notion of what I am (or what anyone is.)

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    2. Your words were beautiful! I never thought that the massage therapist would see it that way!

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  26. Well that was beautiful.

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  27. Reading this makes me want to move to Portland to be your client. I've never had a professional massage because I was afraid of what the therapist would think of my body. I am going to start a search for a recommended therapist in my area today. Thank you.

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  28. I work in a chiropractor's office, directly with patients. I'm the person who logs their symptoms into their chart and gets them set up on the table. Before the doctor comes in, I give them a brief "massage" with a hand-held electric body massage unit. Takes less than four minutes. But there is something sacred in those minutes, in the time spent focusing on another human being's body just as it is, in seeing someone relax and let go and slide into the moment. As adults, we seldom get personal attention from anyone, permission to be who we are and be touched and just...Do Nothing. Think Nothing. I love giving "massages" for that very reason. It's the best part of my job.

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    1. Yes, me too. It's the best job in the world.

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  29. That made me relax, just reading it. Thank you! =)

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  30. Oh, dear Dale. You are wondrous. Do you have any notion how many of us are choked-up with tears now, just from the possibility that someone might see us in the generous way you've just described? If I didn't know you I almost wouldn't believe it was possible. Except that I do, and I do.

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    1. Well -- you make it easy. Anyone can see it in you, Rachel. No challenge at all. :-) xoxo

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  31. Dale, never met you, caught the article off of facebook. This is just deeply lovely. I shared on facebook that I think this article sounds like it was Letters to a Young Poet by Rilke, if Rilke were a masseuse and a nonfiction writer. Your essay confirms everything I want to believe but find it utterly difficult to do so, about myself. I'll return to your words again and again. Keep burning your flame, we all need that glow!

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    1. Thank you so much! I'll never be any sort of Rilke, alas, but it's so wonderful to be heard --

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  32. I wish I lived in Portland! I read this because Nature's Gift Aromatherapy shared it on Facebook and I am deeply touched. Today is my birthday and your words are just what I needed. Thank you!

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    1. Hey, happy birthday! & Thanks for reading.

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  33. Thank you for your beautiful, kind words, Dale. In this airbrushed, photoshopped world, many people forget what a "real" human body looks like. Your perspective is amazing. Your clients are so fortunate.

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  34. Excuse me while I pass out from fantastic-writing overload...
    that was tremendous and gorgeous and I am all frothy with happiness that I got to read it.
    Also I did not know you had TWO blogs. The more the merrier. Why not make it three???

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    1. :-) not everyone appreciates introspection & literary maundering & first drafts of poems. So those things tend to go on the other blog.

      Thank you. All your wonderful recent writing about massage has been stirring me up to write here, you know.

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  35. So very beautifully said. I've also been a massage therapist for many years in NC, and could not have said it more eloquently. It truly is sacred work.

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  36. God, man, when can I book you?

    That was poetry.

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  37. My corporate office are in Portland and I am in town several times a year for work. YOU will be on my list of people to call prior to my next visit in order to schedule an appointment. I hope you have evening hours....

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    1. Tippy, yes! It's mostly evenings & weekends. Let me know as far ahead as you can, though; my schedule's often full a week or two out.

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  38. Beautiful piece. If only everyone was able to see the beauty in a real body like you have described here. I live south of Salem...do you come down that far? If not, it would be worth a trip up north!

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    1. I drive down to Salem once a month or so to have lunch with my Dad: I bet we could work out a time. Send me mail & I can let you know when I'm coming down. dale@dalefavier.com

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  39. Wow, Dale, I am aglow already, just from reading your lovely article. Thank you for sharing your kindness.

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  40. Beautiful! I studied massage but had to leave school when my father became too ill for me to leave him with anyone. I learned in that year that as the one giving the massage, I seemed to get as much out of it as those on my table. I became a hospice nurse aide and realized why I learned massage years before: most of my patients couldn't talk, but they all responded to my touch.

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    1. Yes. I was able to give my father-in-law some very, very light massage -- barely more than a laying-on of hands -- in his last days, and I've always been really glad of that. Often touch is the last channel open.

      Thank you.

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  41. This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your kind words. I've already re-posted to Facebook, to share your wise sentiments. You have a profound respect for the human body, and it is refreshing to hear. Thanks again for sharing.

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  42. What a gorgeous piece. Just, awesome. I wish I wasn't so far away!

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  43. Thanks, Jo. I may be far away, but I bet there are massage therapists close to you who feel exactly the same way about it! Give them a shot.

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  44. Wow...you're a poet. If you're anything like the massage therapists who have ministered to me, you're a bit of a magician, too.

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    1. :-) Touch is magic, that's all. Thanks, Carolynn!

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  45. I'm surprised by how many people like this. Your post makes you sound like a pervert who got into the massage business to see people undressed and feel them up. I would certainly not have my wife call you for a massage.

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    1. Hopefully your wife is capable of booking a massage without the help of a jealous, possessive spouse who feels threatened by other men who can appreciate her body for what it is.

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    2. Whoa, whoa, gently, friends! Let's stop there.

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  46. this is just absolutely beautiful. thank you so much for sharing!

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  47. Moved to tears. Dale, thank you for being you.

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  48. Thank you, Dale - this is my kind of reality check: the world seen through eyes looking for beauty, not for defects. It's all about perspective, eh?

    I'll be coming to Portland next spring for a very fun academic conference. And judging by your words here, you seem like our kind of folk. Might you be interested in offering a group rate for booking a bunch of massages in a row at a lovely retreat center? Just inquiring about the possibility...

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    1. Good! If there's interest amongst the group, then, I'll be in touch closer to the time.

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  49. This is awesome! Thanks so much for sharing your perspective -- which is so kind and gentle and loving.

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  50. Dale, what a marvelous piece of writing about massage. Your perspective of bodies is so beautifully rendered. I don't get massages as often as I'd like, but you've also caught my experience so very well. I'm very modest, but I don't care about undressing anymore. It is about both being able to stop hanging on and because I feel safe. I have the luxury of having a massage therapist who I feel deep affection for and am very comfortable with. I think that also plays here, and I imagine you easily inspire both in your clients.

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    1. Oh, I'm glad you have someone good! Thanks so much, Beth.

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  51. Amazingly beautiful! From this Reiki practioner- thank you for your lovely words!
    Belinda

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  52. What a beautiful piece. Thank you for writing it. I will be sharing it. :-)

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  53. This just made my whole day. You are a very special human being, and your clients are very, very fortunate.

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  54. Wow! I am touched to tears by your words. I am body confident and take great care of myself through yoga but I'd never thought of myself as a flame before. Today I shine brighter thanks to your courage and truth.

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  55. My beloved brother died at 48 of AIDS-related illness, after having his hips removed because of transplant failure. Even to the end, though he could no longer stand, he never lost his senses of compassion and beauty. He too loved people, all people, with their poor, sick, suffering bodies. I am writing to you today because your beautiful post reminded me of him. He was not trained in massage therapy but he gave them to any of us who would hold still. From your post I now understand how he could be so unfailingly kind, even through great pain, and what he received from helping others in this way. His gift, like yours, was as simple as it was precious, and it was love.

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    1. Oh, I'm sorry for your loss! Thank you for sharing this.

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  56. Oh how I love this article

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  57. This is so beautiful!

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  58. How sweet to say that all women have cellulite. However, a small sample of the many women that some of you, men and women have been intimate with will tell anyone who cares, that, no, NOT ALL women have cellulite. Nice try though, I'm sure a lot of women appreciate the effort.

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    1. :-) It's true, there's some percentage (ten, twenty? Something like that) of women who don't. But it's the normal structure of female adipose tissue, not a condition that you come down with, & not something you need to fix.

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    2. Jillian Michaels believes 95 percent of all women have cellulite. Other websites quote 90-95%.

      I don't know Dale, but I believe his point was more to the fact that everyone has some imperfection that we shouldn't be ashamed of. Cellulite just happens to be very common and something most women abhor. ;-)

      Great blog, Dale! I stopped being anxious about what people thought about my body during massages long ago - especially after having a baby. Things shift and move, but they're still mine and they're not too shabby! Haha.

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  59. A wonder-full, life-affirming, compassionate post. Bodies are important. They are not all of what we are. I can feel the grip on my body-bound sense of self loosen a little. I can feel some seeds of self-compassion growing. That's still needed - even after seeing many nude bodies in my 20+ years as a gym rat, and time as a direct-care hospice volunteer. The range of bodies is amazing. Yet underneath that veneer of skin - our needs are so much the same. Blessings to you in this healing work, Dale. I'm new to this blog - I will be back again.

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  60. So very beautiful. I've been a massage instructor for 26 years and this so eloquently expresses the essence of what is important to impart to young bodyworkers.
    Will link our students to this article.
    Thank you for saying it so beautifully.

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  61. Blunt and beautiful. Thank you for expressing such a basic message (which nonetheless goes against so many of the other messages we receive) about the body and how we inhabit it.

    I have learned that massage benefits me immeasurably in its giving and its taking: to be touched, to have tension rubbed away, to receive the caring that goes along with the pressure of the hands... And when I come out of my masseusse's hands, makeup gone, hair awry, and neck rolling freely, I look in the mirror and see someone more beautiful than when she went in.

    Glow, contentment, assurance, acceptance, refreshment... essential parts of beauty.

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  62. I am a high school English teacher... And 39.5 weeks pregnant. I've had deep tissue / trigger point massage for years to help me cope with school stress, and I had my last prenatal massage today in Seattle. Your post moved me to tears.

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  63. As a fellow massage therapist and someone who suffered with body dysmorphia issues for years, I'm doubly moved by this piece. Beautiful, and so true.

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  64. Pointed here by a friend, I now have a big smile on my face!

    This is so very taken directly from my heart!

    Thanks Dave!

    Namaste, Frank

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  65. I'm a seamstress. I've measured a lot of people. Usually in clothes. Sometimes in underwear. Most of them women.

    I measure because when they tell me they are a "size 10" it means nothing to me. It depends on where you carry your flesh. Some women say 10 with a grin, some with a sigh, still means nothing. I've measured plump size 4's and lean size 14's. I just want to make your clothes fit.

    PS I'm 5'10". At 19 I weighed a natural and normal 110 lbs. I also had cellulite and a bit of a tummy. It's so so normal. I'm 38 now. I weigh 160 lbs after 3 kids and perimenopause fun. I like this weight. I still have cellulite.

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  66. Well put. You are not only a massage therapist but a poet as well. I have been doing this work now over thirty years. I am well sagged and wrinkled. The glow comes with deep communication, trust, transformation. I am grateful you put it all into words.

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  67. Thanks for writing this. I've shared it on my facebook.

    I love to see what my work, our work, can do for people, open them up with touch and compassion. Its a beautiful thing.

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  68. yes, I too got choked up reading this. At age 66, everything is drooping and sagging, and if it weren't for my dear husband who loves every inch of me, I wouldn't want anyone to look at me. Thank you, thank you, for showing me just how differently we can look at each other and ourselves and for expressing your experience and perception so beautifully.

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  69. One of my favorite expressions is 'ewes not fat, ewes fluffy.' When attending a getaway for large lovely women there were massage therapist for us. A few were large women and a few were small women. I wish this writing would have accompanied the invitation and scheduling... I would have felt like a round star.

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  70. The last couple of paragraphs of this is a "found poem". There's a website called "Verbatim" where poets like me, post these things - with credit to the author, obviously. I'd like to post this, if you don't mind.

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  71. well sir, I happened upon this by quite the roundabout way; it was posted on a FB profile of a young woman who'd made a comment on a different post I'd seen. Her comment was intriguing, as was her public page. It's very late here in DC, my mind is wandering a bit before I retire. In any case, as luck would have it, I've been considering a move to either Portland or Seattle.. at least now I know where I'll go for my massage when I get there. ;)

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  72. As a 60-yr old with lupus and fibromyalgia, could you please tell me if there is a different type of massage that I may get depending on pain level? I have had ONE massage in my life, kept telling massage therapist that it was "too hard" and extremely painful. She kept saying that it would help my muscles and I ended up in severe pain for days...but willing to try again if I have a specific massage to ask for. Blessings to you and your "ministry" to others...

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    1. The quick answer, I'm afraid, is "no." Your best bet is to find an experienced oncology or hospice massage person -- they learn how to do really light work. Your next best bet is a Healing Touch or Reiki or other "energy work" person: the "energy" theory behind their work makes me (as a science guy) cringe, but they'll tend to be more open to very light work, to the laying on of hands, or even just holding hands above the skin and letting the motion of the air convey the touch. Your worst bet will be an amateur, or someone fresh out of school, who's convinced that massage works by making structural mechanical adjustments body and by "releasing" muscle and fascia, often by inflicting pain. (I think my next post is going to have to be about this...) You can't afford to have someone kick off a flare.

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    2. Holistic pulsing (sounds a bit silly but is UNBELIEVABLY releasing and relaxing when done sensitively) has been great for me (I have fibromyalgia, but dont know about the lupus factor). And you can leave your clothes on - woop woop!!

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  73. WOW. This is phenomenal. A friend shared this with me when I was worried that due to health issues, I'm unable to work out like I used to and feel bad about how much I weigh and how I look. This makes me realize I am more than my body and the flame within me still rages. Thank you!

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  74. I'm pregant and live in Texas. What I wouldn't give to get a massage from you and hear how the big thighs and double chin I complain about are beautiful! Thanks for your words and your outlook.

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  75. I wish i`d know such a terapist like you working here in Trondheim ( city in Norway)! Thanks so much for Your Words and Your Outlook:O)

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  76. Someone sent this to me...from the title I was curious to see if you were heading in the direction I was heading in. As a massage therapist I find is so very interesting to see the face while deep in relaxation. Often, to me, people hardly "look like themselves" or maybe a younger version of themselves. It is soft and unguarded and gentle...how I imagine I look in the morning before any of the worries of the day and my life find me. I love that look. Peace and good things!

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  77. I am the sister of Eliza who commented above. Just wanted to say this post is beautiful and I am so happy to know there are other massage therapists out there like her. Thank you!

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  78. I was just in Portland last week. I wish this had come out prior to that or I'd have come to see you! I thank you so sincerely for writing this, because I am in a period of transition that has proven to be bittersweet. I had weight loss surgery five months ago and have lost 80 pounds. I still have about 40 to go. With the lost weight, I have regained parts of my life - my energy, my sleep habits, my self-esteem, and my general quality have life have greatly improved. But...I am sure you are well aware of what a body looks like after losing a massive amount of weight in a short amount of time. And that's holding me back from putting myself out there fully. But now, maybe I'll hope that more people think like you do. :-)

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  79. This made me tear up. Beautiful writing and so hopeful! I may just reconsider my fear of massages. Thank you.

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  80. This was SO GREAT! I'm sharing the link on my blog this Friday if that's alright. We're covering a similar topic. (Here's the first entry if you're curious http://embodyed.blogspot.com/2013/09/explicitness-is-not-issue-heres-why.html?showComment=1378849872462#c5837069657091519881 ) Thank you, once again Dale!

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  81. Love what you had to say Dale, I posted this on my Facebook group page for BeYOUtiful People, a campaign for body positivity and self confidence.

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  82. From the comments you have received so far, I know you have already heard this but thank you for your beautiful post. I am a fat woman who started as a fat child and had to come to terms with being able to accept myself and my beauty for what it is and not what is in the magazines (and on TV and in the movies, etc.). I have been fortunate to meet enough people like you (and to marry one)to be supported in knowing my own beauty, the people who don't find me beautiful in spite of my body shape or because of my body shape, but because I am me and human beings can be very beautiful. You give great eloquence to a loving way to view the world, each other and ourselves.

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  83. You are a good man, Dale. I'm in Seattle and think I just may need to take a visit to you. Blessings to you, and your hands. This is really so inspiring, and makes me remember that there is still lots and lots of good in the world.

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  84. Hi Dale

    I saw this post today on Huffington Post and loved it. Thanks for sharing. It's a wonderful perspective you have on our bodies. And you are so right that we are not how the media makes us out to be. When we are bombarded over and over with a certain message, it takes a lot of effort to ensure that people dont get overwhelmed or feel belittled about their self image or their body.

    We cant control what is published, every one is entitled to their opinion but sometimes its also about access to information and the responsibility that comes with self publishing or media publishing that is not somehow accounted for.

    If only all the massage therapists in the world thought and felt like you do - and in fact, if all of us would do so too - what a wonderful place this world would be.

    Love your imagination, your passion and your ability to inspire!

    regards
    rowena

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  85. This part: "Everybody on a massage table is beautiful. There are really no exceptions to this rule. At that first long sigh, at that first thought that “I can stop hanging on now, I’m safe” – a luminosity, a glow, begins. Within a few minutes the whole body is radiant with it." I was trying to explain that to someone the other day. Perfectly described.

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  86. This is the most beautiful thing I've ever read. Your clients are blessed to have you in their lives. Thank you, thank you thank you for seeing the beauty that is the human form!
    Over from Reembody.

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  87. Thank you. This was beautiful.

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  88. Beautiful post, Dale. Thank you.

    I was struck by your comment about seeing that moment if letting to and feeling safe. It's been a difficult year for me and I find myself craving the relaxation and tenderness of a massage. But I also know that the tenderness would open up the floodgates, so to speak and I'd be a sobbing mess within minutes. Right now, not letting go is the only thing keeping me together.

    What are your thoughts regarding clients crying? Have you had that happen to you? What is the best way for a client to handle the situation?

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  89. Oh, of course! It happens all the time. There's nothing to handle, except of course you'll want a big box of kleenex to hand. (It's a sadly unprepared massage therapist who doesn't have a box of kleenex in the office!) It's not a problem. You cry for a while, maybe say whatever you have to say, sniffle & blow your nose, and the massage goes on.

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  90. Can you please move to Austria and give me and all my friends a massage?

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  91. This is almost too lovely for words. Thank you for taking the time to put this to paper.

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  92. Found this shared on FB, and I shared it as well. It took me years to get over being self-conscious during massage (which I SO enjoy) and I have so many friends who won't try it for the same reason. My current CMT is nothing short of amazing. :)

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  93. Thank you for such an inspiring post. Keep bringing the glow! <3

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  94. This is an inspiring post to read, but I think it's wrong to say that bodies can't be a certain way, or that if they are then they must be another way. Like when you say "Lean people have a kind of rawboned, unfinished look about them that is very appealing. But they don’t have plump round breasts and plump round asses. You have plump round breasts and a plump round ass, you have a plump round belly and plump round thighs as well. That’s how it works." Or "Men have silly buttocks.". Bodies come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, for men and women. I'm sure as a massage therapist you do actually SEE bodies of ALL sorts of types. Using myself as an example, I am a female, 120 lbs, 13.4% body fat with a 32D bra size and the nickname "bubble butt". One of my best friends is a guy who's passion is working out, and he has anything but "silly buttocks" with "no padding". If you're writing a post about how everybody is beautiful the way they are, then why these "restraints". Bodies can be any way, not just like what you say. If it weren't for this, it would be even better.

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  95. I am a massage therapist too, and I decided several years ago that the best thing I can do for my clients is to make them feel safe, so they can relax. When they come in stressed, I do my best to make them feel like they are loved and appreciated, and always always beautiful. This is a GREAT description of how I think all MT's should work and I am sharing on my page. Thanks so much!

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  96. What a wonderful article. I have to get 2 massages a week because it is the only way I am able to manage my chronic pain enough to be able to do anything. It is not relaxation massage and always very painful but if it's not it doesnt do anything to help me. My insurance company is very ignorant about massage therapy it seems so we pay out of pocket student prices. However I think the importance of massage is much better recognized in Canada where I come from. My mother and sister are both massage therapists and I have the highest respect for the trade and wish they had more power in the medical profession! I used to be very self concious about undressing for a massage but now I'm very used to it and just so appreciate the help and experience and the fact that nothing really throws them. :)

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  97. Love this! I'm still terrified to go get a massage because I feel bad anyone has to look at or touch me, but I know I'd be braver if I had someone to go to with your viewpoint!

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  98. Thank you so much. Even from across state lines, you are a remarkable healer.

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  99. thank you, Dale, for saying all this, it's really helped me to appreciate myself the way I am!

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  100. Thank you for this beautiful post. I'm a counsellor and feel the exact same way about people's minds and hearts. What an honor to work along side you in the helping field.

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  101. What a BEAUTIFUL Message Dale!!! This just reminded how much I need and miss massages!!!!

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  102. You said "You have plump round breasts and a plump round ass, you have a plump round belly and plump round thighs as well. That’s how it works. (And that’s very appealing too.)"

    I couldn't disagree more with that. Women (and men) who go to the gym and work out and SQUAT achieve 'plump round asses' while avoiding a 'plump round belly and plump round thighs'. It takes a small amount of dedication and healthy eating to achieve this. I understand your thought process behind this and I think the overall message sounds positive enough but I see similarities in this blog post in the same way I see/hear women constantly seeing a picture of an overweight woman and calling her 'curvy'. Call it what you want but what many people call 'curvy' is actually called obese. You may think 'plump' is nice but that doesn't mean everyone else will and I believe (like Laura said above) that a body that is healthy is best - regardless of how it looks.

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    1. Well, we can certainly agree that weight training is awesome, and obesity, strictly defined, is a health problem. But "plump" is not a health problem, and neither is cellulite: it's a "not matching the media images" problem. It's true that you can train up your glutes with squats, and it's a terrific thing to do for all sorts of genuinely important reasons, like getting strong and healthy. But your butt might stay skinny even if it's rock hard and powerful -- depends on your body type. Some bodies seem to like running with a really low proportion of body fat, and some don't, and they can be really obstinate about where they decide to store the fat they do hang on to.

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    2. Hi, different poster to Anonymous above. I cant speak for them and Laura above, but I think you might be slightly missing the point. While I appreciate your post and am grateful for its existence amidst the barrage of toxic messages people receive about bodies in the media, that line about 'Thats how it works' confused me because I too felt that it was in a way discounting some bodies. While for many, many people that is 'how it works', and is healthy and attractive, I am sure you know more than I do than the range of bodies that exist in human beings is so vast that such a generalisation cannot be made. For example, some pear shapes even with larger thighs and butt don't tend to store fat in their breasts and waist/tummy area - it tends to be hips and below. So while 'plump' shouldn't be considered a bad word and is not necessarily unhealthy, your article would have been even better had there been acknowledgment that some bodies have both lean and soft aspects to them. Or muscular and 'large' thighs with skinny arms. As you yourself have said, some parts like to hold on to fat more than others, and similarly some parts (on some bodies anyway) just don't retain fat/muscle. I know this first hand, I used to wish i had bigger boobs but its never going to happen!I am OK with that now though :) I like your overall sentiment though, keep it up.

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    3. Thanks very much, I've been thinking hard about this for the last couple days.

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  103. Absolutely gorgeous post. It seems sometime like EVERYBODY is self-conscious about their bodies in some way, even people who are generally acknowledged by everyone to be gorgeous as hell. (And even they certainly don't escape further modification by airbrush.) I don't know what it's like from the other side, but an ex-roommate of mine was training as a massage therapist and I was more than happy to help her out by being her practice dummy. :D Just having somebody see and handle every piece of you without any judgment at all is a transformative experience in itself.

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  104. http://www.reddit.com/r/swoleacceptance/comments/1m86vm/everybody_in_a_gym_is_beautiful_there_are_really/

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  105. It's wonderful that you have written a piece that puts people at ease. To add a female massage therapists' perspective here: The visual representation of my client's body does not even cross my mind. What it may look like on the surface is irrelevant except for it's value as a diagnostic tool.

    What my hands, forearms, elbows and knees feel are the only parts I "see," as I massage with my eyes completely closed. Adipose tissue? it feels wonderful under my hands. Loose skin? Feels glorious as it stretches with the fascia. Scar tissue? An interesting rubix cube to manipulate with my fingers. A thin person with little body fat? a delicate keyboard to be played with the utmost care.

    A massage is an exchange of the inner energy between two people. A gift from one to the other and back again. It's what people "look like" on the inside that counts.

    Jennifer

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    1. No, it really doesn't cross mine either: it's startling when a client suddenly speaks up to apologize for -- God knows what! -- their thick ankles or flabby upper arms -- whatever -- for having the wrong body in the wrong state of maintenance. And you suddenly realize that they're in a completely different space, worrying about their body as it might be visually represented in a magazine or something.

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  106. Thank you for this post. I'm trying to find a word to describe it, since "beautiful" doesn't do it justice. I'm a woman in her mid-forties who has struggled with body image issues my entire life. Reading about the glow you see coming from all the different bodies that you encounter makes me wish I could see myself through your eyes...just for a minute.

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  107. Thank you for writing this. Poetic, truthful, beautiful.

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  108. As a Massage Therapist myself, thank you for putting into words how most of us feel.. We all have are flaws and we all have our gifts.. Acceptance of it all and to love the body as a whole should be everyone's goal

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  109. Dale, your article is beautiful. Well said. I am an LMT in the Bangor area and will have to come and see you when I am in Portland next. Thank you for sharing your perspective on massage, the feeling is mutual. :o)

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  110. I'm printing this out and carrying it in my wallet. Thank you.

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  111. I love your perception of people.
    It seems that you love the glow that is their soul, not just the external, but also the internal.
    I love that you exposed your soul in this post.
    Thank you for that.

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  112. Wish you could come help me and my fibromyalgia! But I'm all the way in Pittsburgh. This is such an inspiring post, and it's comforting to know that there are more people out there who can find beauty in everyone. You are awesome.

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  113. Thank you. What a beautiful piece from a beautiful heart.

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  114. Very poetic... "I’ll tell you what people look like, really: they look like flames. Or like the stars, on a clear night in the wilderness."
    Yes.
    And Thank You.
    You have so much Beauty here, in your words and in the feelings you've stirred within people.

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  115. This post explains why I sometimes fall in love a little bit with some of my massage therapists. Haha. I call it transference. It makes sense now.

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  116. Thank you for reminding me that I am a beautiful human being.

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  117. Looks like you just brought a lot of joy there, Dale...well done.

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  118. This is beautiful and it touched my heart. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences as a massage therapist!

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  119. Absolutely beautiful. I will keep this in mind as I do my physical therapy today which ends with a massage to loosen the hateful bits of my body, the parts that aren't visible to the eye, but my therapist knows so well.

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  120. Why can't you be in WA state? Where I have a husband with insane body issues and pain he won't admit to. I will have him read this I have learned to just stop looking at anything but real live people. When my daughters point and ask what a magazine is(They are both 2 1/2) I tell them that they are cartoons.

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  121. I stumbled on this via a WordPress link from another Blogger. This is the most beautiful reflection on the beauty of real, imperfect human bodies I have ever read.

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  122. Just wanted to let you know this was shared in my FB feed by Swedish friends. That means it has reached Sweden and the United Kingdom. It seems your words spoke to many people!

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  123. What a great message! I imagine that because of your job you get to see people in their most vulnerable state, and I love that you describe them as beautiful! It is a great reflection on you that you can make them shine! Thank you!

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  124. I agree - everyone on the massage table is beautiful! I imagine each person as they were as a tiny baby - perfect and full of aliveness. Bless you.

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  125. This made me weepy with happiness. You've done something great here. :) Shared on my FB page.

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  126. Lovely post. Thanks for clearing things up for us. :)

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  127. I like to do massage to my family, but I'm kind of scared to do this professionally, because it is a hard work, isn't it?
    I love how a body changes after my treatment, but could you tell me how did it happen that you decided to be a massage therapist?
    And how many people a day do you massage?

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  128. I found this reading a post over at reembody.me. Thanks for sharing. It got me misty. Bless you, sir.

    -M

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  129. This is one of the most spectacular, beautiful, poignant and brief things I have ever read. thank you

    http://www.predatory-lies.com

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  130. Those last two paragraphs were poetry, I love the passion you put into what you do :)

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  131. Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece about massage. As a massage therapist I'm thankful you put these thoughts that've bee rolling around in my head down for all to read.

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  132. Beautiful thoughts and nice to know that there are therapists who think like you do, like I do. Blessings on your work, your life too.

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  133. This is a really insightful piece. It inspired me to share a few thoughts with my own clients.

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