Eight things I Learned from 50 Naked People.

Via Kate Bartolotta
on Sep 22, 2011
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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.

Finding God in a Hot Spring. {Nudity}

Bonus:

massage

 ~

My favorite kind of preventative healthcare:


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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.

Comments

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

  1. 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?!

  2. 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.

  3. michelle says:

    I really love this! Thank you….

  4. 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."

  5. JoshMPlant says:

    This is truly great! #nevernude

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

  7. Aww, thanks Lauren! I have been craving some more Lauren writing!! Where have you been??

  8. I love that feeling when you just have to write! I find myself mumbling about something while driving or in the shower & just can't wait until I can write it!

  9. Stephanie says:

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. Thanks! haha–I hear that a lot about the bio. Just figured it would be more fun that the typical work/hobbies/etc.

  13. Telesh says:

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

  14. 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.

  15. Diana Deaver says:

    Touching and inspiring! Keep it up!

  16. 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!

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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

  21. 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. 🙂

  22. 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.

  23. […] 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 […]

  24. massager says:

    f*cking right on!

  25. […] 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 […]

  26. 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

  27. projectswatch says:

    I love, love, love this post.

  28. […] 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… read more […]

  29. thislittlelark says:

    Thank you for sharing this thoughtful piece! As a massage therapist and chinese medicine student, I am constantly in awe of the human body and each story it tells. Blessings to you! 🙂

  30. Rod and Lee says:

    A very inspiring blog. I especially related to #5. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  31. Kate says:

    LOL if this is true then why is the article illustrated with yet another image of a waif who has the hips of an 8 year old? Pfffft. Cute idea but the image invalidates the message completely.

  32. Sarah says:

    Kate,

    I love this! I too am an MT! Your words are SO true! I am also a vegan, and have been charged (and found guilty of over use of the !) Thank you for sharing.

  33. Jo-Anne says:

    The picture you include is a girl who has no imperfections, skin or weight issues or otherwise… this is contradicting, and yet, it sells.

  34. Regan Jean Coussan says:

    I just shared this blog on Facebook, and thought I might share my remarks here, if I may.

    Interesting article, courtesy of a friend. There is a whole lot of truth in what she has to say, the main points if nothing else are very important in what we do. After all, there are very, very few medical practitioners who will get to know a person's body better than an LMT. It is worth reading.

    I should say that the writer might be treading the edge with the picture, remarks about "It’s part of what makes you so beautiful." and "Your body is a f*cking wonderland. You are amazing just as you are, right now," among others. Not because the sentiments are bad or even wrong, but because it can be so easily misconstrued.

    But, she is a student, her outlook is good, and she is obviously aiming this at people, probably fellow students or friends, who are self-conscious. Good for her. And frankly, when one is working on, and being worked on by, several people a week, the concept of personal space flies out of the window a bit at first, though we all are trained and try very hard to maintain the professional distance and courtesy.

    Just ask my wife sometime about the first evening we met, six years ago: In my enthusiasm, I took her hands after showing our mutual friend what I had been learning without thinking, never knowing that she was uncomfortable with strangers touching her. She jokes now that only her knowledge that people with poor eyesight are often tactile saved me from getting bonked on the nose. 🙂 It is funny now, but it was also a very valuable lesson.

    All of that said, the writer's sensitivity is extremely good; I have no doubt that she will be a fine therapist. That level of reassurance that the writer is giving will be good as she goes along and gains experience, and she definitely has a good sense of the body. A person should hope for a massage therapist with that level of empathy and knowledgeability. I wish her very well.

  35. brandiebroihier says:

    You are far more than a mediocre writer. Your bio is beautiful, don't say that!

  36. Elizabeth says:

    The writing is beautiful. Too bad the photo at the beginning undermines at least half of the tidbits of wisdom…

  37. Rosemary Stokes says:

    enjoyed the read !! I am taking nice breaths, stretching and considering a message is much needed thank you
    !!

  38. I would argue that it doesn't at all. People who are anorexic have as many (if not more) insecurities about their bodies as those who are "average" or overweight. I wrote this article after working on an anorexic woman and an obese woman back to back–both apologized for their bodies and it broke my heart.

  39. As I mentioned in above comments: I would argue that it doesn't at all. People who are anorexic have as many (if not more) insecurities about their bodies as those who are "average" or overweight. I wrote this article after working on an anorexic woman and an obese woman back to back–both apologized for their bodies and it broke my heart.

  40. True…and I would not make those statements to a client directly because it would cross major boundaries and be inappropriate! These are my reflections on what I wish people knew about themselves. Thanks for your thoughts.

  41. Hah! Thanks…mostly meant to be tongue-in-cheek…writing is a process. I always aspire to grow!

  42. Nope. Not a bit. I've mentioned in earlier comments, but self-loathing and body image issues are not restricted to those who are overweight. I was the least comfortable in my body when I was the most underweight.

  43. Michelle says:

    Wonderful piece. It was actually really touching.

    I don’t understand why some of the commenters bring up the picture being in contradiction to the writing. She writes that all bodies are beautiful. It’s not meant to be a comfort to only the overweight people, it’s a statement for ALL people. I have friends that are thinner than me and who I consider to be prettier that are more self-concious than I am. I have friends who are heavier than me who have WAY more self confidence than I do. Body image is a matter of self-perception. The image in no way undermines the article.

  44. Becky G. says:

    I am a massage therapist as well and what was said in the article above is true!! There is alot you can find out from a persons body threw massage..

  45. Kat1mcd says:

    Something many of us overlook. Body image issues affect a wide range of people.

  46. Exactly! I mentioned that to a few commenters. Thin people have body image issues too.

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