Eight things I Learned from 50 Naked People.

Via on Sep 22, 2011



In the past year, I’ve touched more than 50 naked people.

Don’t worry though—the fancy parts were covered—I’m a massage therapy student. They have you start on friends and family, other students and then the general public. Some people are silent during a massage; others can’t stop talking in a nervous attempt to clothe themselves with something, even if only words.

Despite our obsession with sex, American culture doesn’t really encourage nakedness (physically or emotionally). And if all the pleasantries and social constructs we use weren’t bad enough, we add social media into the mix and distance each other even further. When we’re naked and silent, all of that falls away. What I learn from what a person tells me is minuscule compared to what I learn by feeling his skin, muscle and bone. By watching him move. By listening to his breath. By feeling his pulse. So, in case you didn’t know:

1. Your body doesn’t lie. You might say, “I’m relaxed!” or, “That pressure is great, you can work deeper,” but your body may tell a very different story. What goes on in your muscles, with your breathing, with your pulse is the truest you: the you that even you might not know yet. It’s a good thing to get in touch with. You’d feel much better if you listened and let your words match up to what your body was saying.

2. When you stretch, you open up space.  This is physically true, and emotionally true. When you physically stretch (or allow yourself to be stretched) you create space and allow for greater movement, greater vulnerability and more growth. It’s the same when you stretch yourself emotionally, too. Your physical and emotional selves aren’t separate––stretch one, and you usually stretch the other, too. It isn’t always comfortable at first, but it’s a wonderful thing. Surrender to it. You won’t regret it.

3. That thing you’re embarrassed about? That you don’t want anyone to see? That you tense up and hold your breath over? The part of you that you wish were different? It’s okay. Let go. Enjoy it. It’s part of what makes you so beautiful.

4. Everyone has body hair in various places and amounts. There’s no one right amount. It’s all good. Same goes for moles. Even models don’t look like they do in the pictures. Smooth and hairless is a Madison Avenue invention designed to create discontent (and sell grooming products).

5. Everything you’ve experienced is stored in your body at a cellular level. Each cell is a record of all of it. I’ve felt it in your skin. Being born. Being held. The time you fell off your bike and weren’t that hurt but very scared. That brutal sunburn on your shoulders at 14. The time you fell out of a tree and broke your collarbone. The first time you felt deeply loved. The person who hurt you so badly you thought you were broken for good. Your muscles remember it. They remember it like it happened 10 minutes ago.

Your successes hold your shoulders high. Your losses pull your chest inward. You hold your sadness in your throat, your anger in your jaw and your fear in your belly. Your happiness rises and falls in your chest. Love rolls in and out on the tides of your breath. It’s all there, all the time. {You can release the parts that hurt, if you want to. Yoga and massage are the best ways I’ve seen.}

6.   Your weight is the least interesting thing about you. I promise.

7.   Your skin, however, is fascinating. Every line, every freckle, every scar tells the amazing stories of your life. Please don’t Botox, bleach or sand it all away. They’re all beautiful.

8.   Your body is a f*cking wonderland. You are amazing just as you are, right now.

 

Relephant:

What People Really Look Like. 

 

About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is the strongest girl in the world. She is the love child of a pirate and a roller derby queen. She hails from the second star to the right. Her love of words is boundless, but she knows that many of life’s best moments are completely untranslatable. When she is not writing, you may find her practicing yoga, devouring a book, playing with her children, planting dandelions, or dancing barefoot with her heart on her sleeve. She is madly in love with life and does not know how this story ends; she’s making it up as she goes. Kate is the owner and editor-in-chief of Be You Media Group. She also writes for The Huffington Post, elephant journal, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, Yoganonymous, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds. She facilitates writing workshops and retreats throughout North America. Heart Medicine, Kate's book on writing, is now available on Amazon.com You can follow Kate on Facebook and Twitter

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218 Responses to “Eight things I Learned from 50 Naked People.”

  1. Julie says:

    Yes, eloquently put!

  2. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    Ah Kate, this is so damn beautiful. Like all great writing, it seems to be about one thing, but touches deeply on so much more. Love it.
    Ben

  3. Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

    I agree with Ben! Beautiful writing. Quotable, profound and sensitive. Reading you is like getting a massage… of words.

    Glad to see you posting.

  4. very cool :) I like your light :)

  5. warriorsaint says:

    There is so much I adore about this post!
    First off: "#6. Your weight is the least interesting thing about you." Kate I want to so much put that on a T shirt.

    In my younger years I worked in an hospital eating disorders unit. It would have been wonderful to have shared and gently disected that statement with my patients.
    I am also fascinated with skin-and esp scars. They tell so much about a person's life.

    • Go for it! Put it on a t-shirt if you like! (No royalties necessary haha!)

      I battled disordered eating in my younger years as well…I wish I had learned it earlier. But if the fact that it took me awhile to learn helps me have compassion for others, then it wasn't time wasted.

      Thanks for reading:)

  6. Ann Marie says:

    I loved everything in this article but the picture-perfect, young, slim, white, PYT (pretty young thing) at the top of the page that contradicted everything in the article. Hmm.

    • I get you Ann Marie…we went through a few different pictures at the top. But to play devil's advocate this one, Lindsey Lohan (pictured) is a great example of someone who needs to learn these things. Loving your body is a necessary message for those who are underweight, overweight, and everywhere in between. For clarity's sake, I have never massaged Lindsay Lohan (but confidentiality would prevent me from admitting it even if I had;)

    • Afton says:

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with being naturally slim. Your post is antithetical to everything this article is trying to say and you should really re-evaluate it.

      • LDaly says:

        Lindsay Lohan is an admitted cocaine addict. I suppose she is naturally thin…since cocaine is a natural product….

    • LDaly says:

      Yes. THANK YOU for noticing that too.

  7. Angelica Levreault says:

    Thanks for this :) I'm a massage student as well, just started my third semester at NY College and loving it. I'm also getting my yoga teacher certification and loving how well they integrate!

  8. Deanna says:

    Beautiful! There is so much Truth in this post. I loved it!

  9. Mary says:

    Wonderful!

  10. Bea says:

    My favorite part: "Your body is a f*cking wonderland." So need to remember this.

  11. @-;------ says:

    Life is real… live with passion within yourself… thats REAL!!

  12. Mads says:

    Awesoem read, and it's so true… You certainly can tell a lot about a client, or yoga student, in the way they hold themselves, move, look feel. Everything does have a story to tell. i love this. I hope to get better at reading others in this way. i just gained my yoga certification and I am learning so much!

    i'm posting this to my Facebook page!

    Namaste Godess!

  13. marilee.rt says:

    thank you, i released my held breath and tears flowed and i stretched-thank you

  14. shāna says:

    raw, poignant, wise and touching!

    thank you kate!

  15. jackie casal says:

    This is so well written and so true! I'm a massage therapist and yoga teacher and I LOVE your words Kate!

    Thank you!

  16. Deb says:

    yes, thank you!

  17. shannon says:

    I really love the part on skin. I recently acquired a massive burn on my leg so that is appreciated. Thanks Kate!

  18. [...] probably just start putting clothes on now that it’s getting chilly. All summer, I would be naked. Got a problem with that? Clothes aren’t natural. (I am generally barefoot, by the way. It [...]

  19. [...] the sensitive, romantic, poetic and creative you. That part of the soul that needs a massage even more frequently than your [...]

  20. [...] The parts that are unique are the parts that make it interesting. [...]

  21. Jo says:

    As a massage therapist myself, I absolutely loved this! So true, and so beautifully written. Thanks :)

  22. Observations I've made myself and have also tried to write about. Your writing is lovely, natural. It is my pleasure to recommend this. It could go viral!

  23. Loving the text, but the choice of model in the image negates it all… it's another bone skinny 20 year old reinforcing all of the negative stereotypes about body image= how 'bout showing some real women and men?!

    • We are ALL real. Thin, fat and everything in between. In fact, I hated my body the most when it looked like that. I hear where you are coming from, though. I started writing this the night I had an obese client and an anorexic client back to back. Both apologized for their bodies, and it hurt my heart.

      • Cris says:

        That's fair. Thin women are real women too, absolutely. But the picture accompanying this article is a stereotypical representation that we women see all too often–it doesn't represent average women, and it makes average women feel ugly and abnormal. It's over sexualized and glorifying extreme thinness. I agree with the comment that it negates all of the points in your beautiful article. Such a strange choice of photos. Such a mixed message.

        • Mardie says:

          Interesting – I actually found the image at the top unattractive. As a slightly larger woman, I'm finally starting to see beauty in curves, and this woman (who I didn't recognize as a celebrity) looked emaciated and bony to me. I agree, that she should get to love her body too, thin or fat, but most of all I'm happy that ther thin shape is no longer the image of beauty to me! Next for me will, I hope, be seeing the beauty in ALL bodies!

  24. michelle says:

    I really love this! Thank you….

  25. You're amazing!!

    Beautiful: "The first time you felt deeply loved. The person who hurt you so badly you thought you were broken for good. Your muscles remember it. They remember it like it happened 10 minutes ago."

  26. Joshua Plant JoshMPlant says:

    This is truly great! #nevernude

  27. Your new profile pic makes me want to rewatch all of Arrested Development!! Thanks!

  28. Stephanie says:

    Love the article and LOVE your bio even more!! You just inspired me to write. :)

  29. Bill Bartolotta says:

    Good to hear. I go to a massage therapist monthly and it’s interesting to hear this perspective. BTW, nice last name.

  30. Tammi Mansolf says:

    A friend shared this on FB and I LOVE it! All of this is exactly why I became an MT (6 years graduated and still loving it!) I want all of my clients and everyone else I know to read this. Thank you, thank you! With insight like this, you are sure to do well in this profession. Namaste!

    Also, I agree the best part of this was reading your bio. :-) Never, ever loose your whimsy!

  31. Telesh says:

    I do bodywork and related to so much of what you said. Thanks for stringing your words so sweetly and compassionately.

  32. Lisa says:

    I have been a massage therapist for 20 years and this is PERFECT! I understand what you mean about clients who hurt your heart. I love everything about what you wrote. Good luck and blessings as you continue in bodywork. You are a gift to the profession.

  33. Diana Deaver says:

    Touching and inspiring! Keep it up!

  34. Yasica greenbless says:

    Kate, this is just one of my favorite articles ever. It really addresses what therapeutic massage is about, and addresses regular fears, or preoccupations that so many people have when they go to get bodywork. Thank you!

  35. [...] this kick-ass massage therapist… Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry [...]

  36. Mary says:

    But what about the photo that accompanies the article??? A skinny, no body hair, voluptuous head of hair model! Weird, double message – very disappointing.

  37. Tamar says:

    Fantastic observations, especially as a student. I've been doing licensed massage therapy for almost 20 years, and you could not have said it all better. You're going to be a wonderful massage therapist, clearly to compliment the amazing person you already are. All the best.

  38. Lorelei Greenwood-Jones says:

    I am presenting a releasing ritual of sorts, an Ur-Hag ritual… Your words have inspired me to do some stretching with these women before and after, since they will be stretching themselves vocally and emotionally during the ritual.

    I am very comfortable in my skin (even when I was 300 pounds) and you reaffirm my comfort. I wish everyone was so!

  39. Maya Pande says:

    Oh, this is wonderful. Great article and a welcome reminder. Thanks for writing it. Please continue to give up knitting in order to write. :)

  40. Ann says:

    I love this and believe it with my whole heart, as a professional therapist. Now I must apply it to my personal view of myself today. Thank you for the reminder.

  41. [...] therapist Kate Bartolotta wrote 8 things I Learned from 50 Naked People 2. When you stretch, you open up space. This is physically true, and emotionally true. When you [...]

  42. massager says:

    f*cking right on!

  43. [...] note, here’s an interesting read from a massage therapy student about what she has learned by seeing naked bodies. My personal favorite insight: Your weight is the least interesting thing about you. I [...]

  44. Dean says:

    Kate:

    your a breath of lightning laughter in a bleached day of dusty cliches….

    One day I think I will by you a slice of cheescake

  45. projectswatch says:

    I love, love, love this post.

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