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. She is the perfect choice; I thought immediately it was a tongue in cheek image, until I realized it was poor LiLo…xo

    I loved this…all of it.

  2. […] “Your weight is the least interesting thing about you.” Things a massage therapist has learned. As a former massage therapist, I loved this article and agreed wholeheartedly. […]

  3. Heath Oates says:

    These are delicate, powerful words. Like a good massage. Thank you.

  4. Radha says:

    I hope this article is a start to many massage therapists opening up about what we, yes I am one too, find and experience in a massage session… this could be the beginning of a really cool conversation!!!! Bravo!!

  5. Melissa says:

    #5 had me in tears. Reading it made me feel cradled, loved, human, connected, understood. Thank you for your honest, graceful words. <3

  6. Toni says:

    Kate-thank you..you post was so beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes..and relief to my heart..

  7. 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.

  8. h4x354x0r says:

    I love the message! I'm no masseuse; rather, a hard-core athlete. I've come to understand almost all of this for myself; that my body is absolutely f'ing incredible, beautiful, and entirely and completely lovable. Not only that, but what I've learned to do with my body gives me almost indescribable joy.

    But… I've never before heard that my muscles can tell stories about things I've been through years ago. Now I'm intensely curious about what my muscles might have to say. I want them to talk! It's like this tantalizing glimpse of a newfound voice, of another way for my soul to express itself and find freedom. I want this woman to give me a massage, and give a new voice to my body that Iv'e never heard before. I feel like I've just taken another bite of the fruit of knowledge, and it only makes me hungrier.

    Thank you for the enlightenment.

  9. Yes! Write something up an send it in please!! [email protected]

  10. C says:

    Lovely essay, and I agree with you that there is NOTHING wrong with the photo associated with it. Thin women DO exist and we’re not all unhealthy or suffering from eating disorders. I’m 5’2″, 95 lbs, and hourglass shaped, and I rather like myself. I also know a lot of perfectly beautiful overweight women. Acceptance of all body types means letting go of your bitterness not just towards what you don’t like about your own body but also towards those of whom you are jealous.

  11. ginia A Davis says:

    I appreciated your words. “When you stretch, you open up space”…particularly made me do so right here in my seat…and it made a difference…I felt better. And it made me think. People need reminding…like to stretch…and another good one…to BREATH. People forget to breath deeply…to breath from the belly and fill the body with the much needed oxygen.
    Thanks for the reminder.
    Thanks for reminding people that they are more alike (in their feelings) than they are different, even though they may “look” different (that one, at my age, I already knew very well).
    Thanks mostly for being a particularly wonderful human being and continuing to voice the words which are needed to hear (from your perspective).

    From another human being on the face of the earth…”I see you” and I say “yes!”

  12. Maureen says:

    I've been a massage therapist for 23 years and I LOVED this article. It's so cool that you have so much insight right out of the gate. Rock on Sista ! You are going to be great !!

  13. Spirit Fire says:

    Thank you for all of that. Knitting w/ needles can be tricky as getting the tension just right can be infuriating. Try breathing space into your knitting too (litterally into the little holes as you create them). Alternately you can switch to a knitting board – it has pegs in a piece of wood or plastic and you loop your yarn and then pull one loop through another with a small hook. It's fantastic because you can set it down and you won't lose your place and the spacing is always the same. Good luck w/ your creative endeavors. Om Namah Shivaya.

  14. lori B says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the content but wonder, as i often do: WHY choose such a conventional looking thin/young/model/waif female as the photographic image for a piece about how diverse and amazing every unique BODY is? just a matter of expanding our awareness, reaching for something fresh and challenging perhaps.
    thanks again for a great piece.

  15. Because we all have body issues… The post came about after I had two clinic clients back to back—one anorexic, one obese—who both apologized for their bodies. It broke my heart. To be honest, I hated my body the most when it looked like Lindsey Lohan's there…learned to love it & treat it gently. Loved it pregnant, love it now—strong, but with softness. I think it's important to remember that every single kind of body is beautiful. Big or small or in between.

    Glad you enjoyed & that's my 2 cents on the picture!

  16. Hah! I have tried to learn to knit for years and it always results in me swearing and throwing things. I think I have enough stuff that I love that I don't do nearly often enough–I'll pass on the knitting for now.

    Thanks though!

  17. Radha says:

    and as a massage therapist myself can I add " and I don't care if your legs are shaved….. " lol

  18. Carrue says:

    Really???? Think again. What about clients with alopecia….look it up.

  19. Jacqueline says:

    As a yoga teacher, I feel the same way, we can sometimes see all those things, sometimes I feel like I keep so many people's secrets close to my yoga teacher heart. Don't worry, your secret is safe with me.

  20. 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.

  21. […] massage therapist’s take on why you should feel good about your body: “Your successes hold your shoulders high. Your losses pull your chest inward. You hold your […]

  22. […] We’re moms, daughters, big, small, young, old, and we are beautiful. […]

  23. […] beliefs. I’ll take my own advice here re: Scorpion). Take an art class or run around the house naked or combine the two and become a life model for an art class (hey, they pay pretty well for that […]

  24. Juan says:

    First, I must say that it causes me incredible pain and suffering when I see comments, as above, referring to licensed massage therapists as “medical practitioners.” For whatever benefits there are to.massage therapy, and however pleasant it feels, the practice is exactly what the title suggests, a form of therapy. Under no circumstances is massage therapy a “medical practice” and to even begin to suggest that a massage therapy license is even remotely as substantial as an M.D. is nonsense and arrogance of the highest degree. Again, with respect to the art of massage therapy, the licensing required for the discipline is nowhere near as rigorous as a B.S. degree in physiology. That said, to put the holder of a massage therapy license on the same level with an individual who has spent 8-10 years and tens, if not hundreds of thousands of.dollars studying the complicated science of medicine is, I’ll say one last time, the highest arrogance.

    That said, I appreciate the spirit of this article. It is important to remember that each of us is an imperfect animal. And the human body, naked, is certainly an excellent reminder of egalitarian frailty of the human condition.

  25. […] A massage therapist tells us the 8 things she learned from looking at 50 naked people. […]

  26. valdis says:

    ||||T. true mastermind, carryingout health
    tuning manipulating, is in a condition of true
    meditation. It’s a special condition, it’s quite
    necessary to be able to take. T. Thai tuning
    does work, first of all, no with physical –
    with an energetic parts of person; just,
    master working in a status of meditation,
    can develop in itself ability intuitively to
    catch currents of energy in an organism;
    in particular, so no simple as female soul!..!
    ||||with in quarter an hour, priest Valentines
    tenderly – in different types, do kneads…. as
    well as stroking, pinching & super-delicately
    does pull mild pink skin at so very meek layer
    of muscle-tissues at t. slim LAss’ back-spinal
    part…. – from scapulars bones until..?! lumbar
    vertebrae; using, at least – virtually, various
    muscles-combinations of both bodies….
    online preferably: (04 till 16 Greenwich’s Time)

  27. Denelle says:

    I have thought all of these things at least once while working on a client. As massage therapists, we have a unique opportunity to work on, and to see, every body type out there. People ask all the time if I get "grossed out" by someone on my table. How could I? God's handiwork is right in front of me and my focus is on listening to the body and helping it to heal and feel better. What a great privilege!

  28. allison says:

    this is beautiful! i just got done talking with friends about how important it is to pay attention to little movements in your body and learning to truly and fully let your body relax! thank you for adding to my current point of view 🙂

  29. […] Eight Things I learned from 50 Naked People | elephant journal. This entry was posted in reread later, Things to Think About. Bookmark the permalink. ← […]

  30. Too true! We all need to take the time to Breathe and Relax 🙂 Great writing, aloha…

  31. Laura Kay says:

    Don't the first words of the article "don't worry" just reinforce societal fear of nakedness? I enjoy my naked, and yes, bald, skin. I celebrate it in my photography. I'd love to photograph you. 🙂

  32. 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!

  33. Zetta Juell says:

    Great post. I used to be checking continuously this weblog and I’m impressed! Extremely useful info specifically the ultimate section I maintain such info much. I used to be looking for this particular info for a very long time. Thank you and good luck.

  34. and now yoga says:

    Subtle, beautiful and truthful reading of the body … put in words. Thank you!

  35. Dace says:

    Lovely article.

  36. […] Below is lovely article from another massage therapist that was published last fall on elephantjournal.com […]

  37. […] “Your weight is the least interesting thing about you.” Things a massage therapist has learned. As a former massage therapist, I loved this article and agreed wholeheartedly. […]

  38. […] case you didn’t already know, it wasn’t your thighs or your arm jiggle. That’s just in your pretty little head. It wasn’t that annoying hormonal breakout you had last […]

  39. […] hide from me. Don’t hide your insecurities or your failures, because what you think are inadequacies, are your sexy parts. If you don’t like your nose, your pectorals or your thinning hair, then I’m gonna love those […]

  40. Robert says:

    Thanks Kate, I needed that. Heart massage. 🙂 <3

  41. […] 8 things a massage therapist learned from 50 naked people […]

  42. […] the desire for intimacy, it makes us human and it makes us attractive. If we paid attention to the messages our bodies are constantly sending us, we’d live a balanced life. Our bodies have an innate wisdom that leads us to a life […]

  43. shana says:

    been a massage therapist for over 10 years and had my hands on hundreds, I'm an aspiring writer thats never written a thing besides good papers in college, and lots of private scrribilings. Love how true, fresh and open your perspective is <3 lots of love

  44. Giusti says:

    You made me cry today. First time when you were describing all the things I hate about myself, my imperfections that I should learn how to embrace but even more all our stories closed in our bodies…I experienced something in the past that I managed to wipe out of my memory but what comes back every time somebody touches me in a manner that brings it all back… I try to cure it with loving touch and yoga and yet, fear sits in a belly and anger in my jaw…10 years like 10 minutes ago… I love your article, so much different than the crap from glossy magazines, if teenagers would read more things like it, they would be happier and healthier…And your description of yourself – so positive, I hope that truly is who you are because that would mean you are one special person 🙂 Greetings from Italy !

  45. Lauren says:

    This is so great, thank you! so many truths…I was just telling my massage therapist the other day that I didn't know I was as stressed as I was until she started to work on me…living with pain for no reason at all. I am still baffled at the number of friends I have that have never experienced massage therapy because they are so self concious oh what they're missing out!

  46. […] Eight Things I learned from 50 Naked People | elephant journal. Check me out onShare This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Jonny. Bookmark the […]