Eight things I Learned from 50 Naked People.

Via Kate Bartolotta
on Sep 22, 2011
get elephant's newsletter

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.



What People Really Look Like.

Finding God in a Hot Spring. {Nudity}




My favorite kind of preventative healthcare:


About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is a wellness cheerleader, yogini storyteller, and self-care maven. She also writes for Huffington Post, Yoga International, Mantra Yoga+ Health, a beauty full mind, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds. Kate's books are now available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. She is passionate about helping people fall in love with their lives. You can connect with Kate on Facebook and Instagram.


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

  1. Aurora says:

    Fantastic. Yes!

  2. Julie says:

    Yes, eloquently put!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Glad you liked it:)

  6. Thanks Ben! The only funny part is that the picture actually went with a different post about when I broke my leg hiking in the mountains…but I guess it works in the sense that being at peace with ourselves is part of the path.

  7. "Reading you is like getting a massage of words." Nice! Glad to hear it! The real thing is much better;)

  8. Ben_Ralston says:

    "Reading you is like getting a massage of words."
    Yep, I felt that too.

  9. Haha! Some MT's are a bit chatty, Amber. It would not have been rude to let him know that you just feel like being quiet. I'm still learning, but try to take my cues from the client;) Thanks for reading!

  10. very cool 🙂 I like your light 🙂

  11. HAHAHA! Tobye! It's funny because I don't typically use bad language in day to day life (it tends to make me blush…embarrassing but true. I only use it when I really mean it.) I used it partly to not completely plagiarize John Mayer, and partially to keep it from being just banal positive white noise….like "Wake up! You are amazing! You are a f*cking wonderland!"

    Namaste, Motherf*cker;) Thanks for reading!

  12. 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.

  13. 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:)

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. Deanna says:

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

  17. Mary says:


  18. 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;)

  19. Yay! I would love to get my yoga teacher cert eventually too! Have you ever received Thai Yoga Massage? There is a lot overlap… Good luck to you at school!

  20. Bea says:

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

  21. I agree Bea! I have a bunch of fave quotes on my bedroom mirror (so that I see them when I 1st get up) I may need to add this one too.

    Thanks for reading!

  22. @-;------ says:

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

  23. 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!

  24. Thanks for reading Mads! Glad it resonated with you:)

  25. Ben_Ralston says:

    Huh. I preferred the original photo… I guess someone else edited it..?

  26. Yes. It was my picture of the woods, then a stock massage photo that was good (but a small image…not sure if that's why it was changed later?) and then Lindsey Lohan. It's all good…all 3 pics fit for different reasons.

  27. marilee.rt says:

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

  28. shāna says:

    raw, poignant, wise and touching!

    thank you kate!

  29. Thanks for reading Shana!

  30. 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!

  31. Thank you for reading, Jackie! Glad you enjoyed it!

  32. Deb says:

    yes, thank you!

  33. shannon says:

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

  34. Sorry to hear about the burn! But yes…all the amazing and difficult things we go through are in our skin. I always feel honored to witness them when I give a massage.

  35. […] 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 […]

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

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

  38. Jo says:

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

  39. 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!