What People Really Look Like: 4 Secrets from a Massage Therapist.

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I’ve been a massage therapist for many years now. I know what people look like. Here’s the real deal on “normal” bodies, and why it’s time we accept ourselves as we are.

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. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from my years as a therapist about what people really look like.

#1: Media images are fake. People are REAL.

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.)

See also: Eight things I Learned from 50 Naked People.

#2: We’re all are perfectly imperfect.

Women 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.

See also: Forget Shrinking Our Bodies, Do this Instead.

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.

#3: We’re all getting older, so yes, our bodies will change.

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?

#4: (And Most Important!!) We are all beautiful. Period.

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.


Bodywork is great. Acupuncture is great…it’s changed my life:

What people really look like:

Healthy, daily lifestyle tips for all of us:

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Assist. Ed: Jade Belzberg/Ed: Sara Crolick
Image: Unsplash

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Dale Favier

Dale Favier has taught poetry, chopped vegetables, and written software for a living. Nowadays he writes in the morning, does database work (for a wonderful non-profit promoting literacy) in the afternoon, and does massage in the evening. It’s pretty much the perfect life, and while he’s uncomfortably aware that he’s running an unsustainable karma deficit, he plans to keep it up as long as he can. He blogs about massage and health at http://dalefavier.blogspot.com.

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anonymous Mar 1, 2016 10:35pm

fyi , cellulite is actually considered a secondary sexual characteristic . estrogen is a fat stored hormone.

anonymous Oct 29, 2015 2:14pm

Since most of the bases are covered, I'll just add a few things.

First of all, the only requirement is a High School Diploma or GED. I personally found that critical thinking and study skills from a BS degree (a BA is also good) really helped.

It's a lot of Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathology – so science-based courses are really good, especially if you might get into massage research or working with other medical professionals.

Most of us become self-employed. As such, I sometimes think a business degree would be helpful. It's not the road I took, and sometimes I need business advice as a result, for others it is an ideal route.

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anonymous Oct 3, 2015 6:04pm

Every day, with every body I massage I am reminded of the beauty in every single person.
I'm glad I'm not the only one to experience this joy.
Thank you

anonymous Jul 30, 2015 5:08pm

I believe as a therapist you need to be science based on your approach. Touching someone in a “therapeutic way” should not have any connotation to appearance or beauty. You are a therapist that is in some form performing a procedure. If my significant other went to a therapist and they mention she was beautiful … Well let’s just say .. We’ll find another therapist.

anonymous Jul 5, 2015 6:19pm

I am MT too and fully share your opinion! yes people! “Everybody on a massage table is beautiful. There are really no exceptions to this rule. ”

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 8:55pm

Loved the humanity of this article.

anonymous May 21, 2015 10:08pm

As a personal trainer and fitness instructor, I also meet many people who stress and obsess about their bodies.
Thank you Dale, for echoing what I feel and saying what you said better than I could.

anonymous Dec 30, 2014 7:47am

Thank you Dale and thank you everyone who has commented so far. It’s been fascinating reading. My wife has been a therapist and yoga teacher for many years and I’ve been fortunate to see firsthand that ‘post massage, post yoga class glow’ thousands of times, radiating all over students and clients as they leave their sessions. It’s amazing to see it. People really do glow. And they’re beautiful.

We now run a yoga retreat in Portugal and so I get to see this phenomenon nearly every single day through our season. It’s without doubt the most rewarding part of my job. And I’m rarely in class or in the treatment rooms. Just an outside observer so to speak, watching people of all sizes, shapes, ages and nationalities experience this. And on a week long retreat in the forest where we live, that glowing effect just grows. As people deeply relax, they become more beautiful. It’s not that they are ugly when they arrive. Mainly they’re just stressed and tired. And as they de stress, through their practice and treatments, they literally shine.

Thanks again to all those who shared. How we feel about our bodies is such a sensitive, emotional and soulful issue. Accepting that we are beautiful and perfect, just the way we are, is not easy. Accepting everyone else around us as beautiful and perfect just the way they are too, is even harder. But so worth it.

anonymous Dec 29, 2014 6:18pm

Echoing, Claudia, "Massage therapist are angels that touch us so we may let go." Thank you so much Dale for sharing this. What a beautiful piece. For those massage therapist who think this is inappropriate, you have missed the point, and frankly, I would hate to be one of your clients if you are unable to get what he is trying to express and if you are not able to view each client as a beaming beauty.

I love how this piece shows the artist in you, the part in you without judgement and shows just how beautiful your view is on us humans as a whole. I love the joy for the work that you do that I feel while reading your work. Humans are beautiful, and most women do have cellulite and it is inevitable that we will all age and sag. How fortunate we should be that we live long enough to view our wrinkles and sagging skin. How fortunate we should be for massage therapist that heal and view us as gems.

Thank you for the work you do, my massage therapist has healed my body and soul on so many levels, because he is without judgment and is full of compassionate healing. AUM! Thanks Dale. What a pleasure!

anonymous Jun 26, 2014 4:03am

nice article…but sorry not all women have cellulite..i dont and i know a lot of women who dont have it..i think it runs in families, my mum never had cellulite and neither does my sister, love our buttocks

anonymous Jun 2, 2014 4:29am

If you had said women have "silly buttocks" you would have been in trouble!
Men have to take these insults as a matter of course. And I am speaking as a woman…

anonymous May 31, 2014 11:04pm

This is so beautiful, thank you!

anonymous May 31, 2014 9:11pm

An acquaintance who is a massage therapist and teacher shocked and saddened me recently when he casually mentioned how he "warned" his students that they'd have to work way more "fat old women" than beautiful young babes. I think his words were painful because of a certain unshakable self-loathing.

anonymous May 31, 2014 11:42am

That was a nice article. It is funny that during massage, we only get to see pieces and parts (as those parts that aren't being worked on are usually all covered up.) I think that this gives rise to a somewhat fragmented view of the person and we have to rely on touch to 'see' the person as whole, connecting with something greater than the surface. And yes, anything written down will be the subject of criticism and rejection as well as affirmation … so the comments are fun to read as well. The comments are a good reminder that we all come from different places – so wonderful that people experience the same article from their own unique perspective. I hope that Mr. Favier sees himself with the same love and compassion that he sees others.

anonymous May 31, 2014 8:45am

No, sorry all women do NOT have cellulite! You lost me with that ridiculous statement!

anonymous May 5, 2014 2:35pm

Simply beautiful. Thank you! Having been to a festival in Australia where I saw lots of naked people hanging about,I know this to be true. Nobody looks like the bodies we see in the magazines. Nobody. If you have body issues, I highly recommend going to a hippy festival and hanging out with nuddies!! 🙂

anonymous Mar 18, 2014 10:44am

This is extremely beautiful. I love your last line especially. I'm a yoga teacher and that's exactly what I see when my student's take savasana. Namaste to you, beautiful human.

anonymous Mar 17, 2014 8:03pm

I am also in it for the glow 🙂

anonymous Mar 17, 2014 2:43pm

I resent this article. I have a fantastic buttocks and there is nothing you or anyone can say to convince me otherwise.

anonymous Feb 24, 2014 9:16am

Dale. This is brilliant. For those of you who are uncomfortable-that's OK. It does not mean that Dale is wrong. For those of you that say you NEVER judge a body or feel ANYTHING sexual or otherwise about ANY of your clients-this scares me. For you are not being honest. Dale is being honest. As we go through this life- attraction, disgust, intrigue, approval, fear, awe, curiosity; all of these things happen. To recognize them is responsible. It enables us to be good stewards of our natural perceptions, embrace what is good and life giving and quiet what is not. So many of us struggle with our bodies and our self worth. This piece recognizes our "flaws" not as something to be ashamed of, but as markers of our genuine humanity and furthermore, it looks beyond the surface to see us as we truly are. Thank you, Dale.

anonymous Feb 23, 2014 11:22am

It seems like some people are taking this piece wrong. First, if you're touching a human body or looking at it and not examining it, you're a liar. My chiropractor, whom I see weekly asked me if I'd lost a bunch of weight recently. Concerned for my health. Not super in her realm, but she stares at bodies on tables all day. Because I've broken so many parts of my body and had surgery so many times I go to chiro weekly to get fixed and adjusted. Then 2x a month I'll go get a massage to feel healed.

anonymous Nov 26, 2013 12:19pm

I'm a skinny girl who is very much in shape. I have 4 pack abs. I also have cellulite. I would also like women to know that when ANY woman sits down, the tummy folds over the top of the jeans (even if you have abs, belly folds over jeans). I watch a lot of women sit down and hide that. Just thought it was note worthy.

anonymous Nov 24, 2013 4:37pm

Loved it! The people above who criticize iremind me of the type of people who say “I don’t see skin color I just see a person.” It’s total BS and if you’re a massage therapist claiming to not notice different kinds of bodies that’s BS too.

anonymous Nov 22, 2013 11:03pm

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This heart glows…

anonymous Nov 21, 2013 10:48am

In Mexico we have a saying "mal de muchos, consuelo de tontos"; "If many people have a flaw, thinking it less of a flaw is silly goose."

anonymous Nov 4, 2013 3:42pm

I am a massage therapist and an esthetician, and I see people naked all the time. Fat, thin, short, tall, once you're on my table you all look beautiful. I see you as a body part that needs to be treated, a muscle in pain, a piece at a time as I work, I don't judge the body as a whole….you can't, because you work a piece at a time to come to a wholeness at the end, and yes, the glow…because as my client relaxes, I relax, and we all become one together!

anonymous Nov 3, 2013 5:32pm

This made me remember a conversation I had years ago with a friend who was considering going into massage therapy. "The only problem I can see is what a friend of mine ran into. She said that since she can't pick and choose her clients, she has to do massages for the fatties and uglies too." At the time I was terribly uncomfortable with that comment and it still makes me cringe (over 10 years later). I hadn't realized until now how much that casually cruel comment had impacted me until reading this. That was the thought that was in the back of my mind every time I went in for a massage. I was terrified that I was the "ugly fat client that no one wants to take". Now I realize that when my therapist tells me how proud she is of me for having the courage to try things beyond "traditional" OT/ PT to recover from the mess that cancer and some TIAs left me in she isn't saying "Brave for a fat person", she's saying "Brave". When she talks about being so glad that I'm feeling a little stronger this week it isn't because I might loose a few pounds, it's because she cares that I'm feeling stronger. Thank you for a wonderful gift, just when I really needed it.

anonymous Nov 3, 2013 8:47am

I've been a massage therapist for over 15 years…the only reason I still do it, very part time,…is for the glow…that ethereal place where I get higher than the client…and flow, the beauty of the dance and the joy of it all. I wish every client could relax enough to go there…and EVERY body is beautiful…it's like comparing apples to oranges, one isn't better, but both delicious in their own way…so thankful for my years of body surfing…and all the people of various colors, shapes and sizes who have trusted me to touch them!

anonymous Oct 17, 2013 9:14pm

I wish I could come to you for massage therapy. I think I would receive soul therapy also!

I have no issues either, as another poster wrote, with undressing for a massage therapist. But, interestingly enough, I won't get undressed in the public space of the women's locker room at the gym. I use the private room with its own toilet, sink and shower. Nearly all the women around me unabashedly dress and undress openly. Nearly all the women are substantially older than myself. Nearly all the woman are overweight, and saggy, baggy, wrinkled. And like you, I find them all beautiful. But me, with my younger, more elastic and smooth skin, my muscles still toned and intact, and with only a slight sag in my belly and buttocks, and more pronounced sag of my breasts — well, I like what I see in the mirror but am not prone to share that view with the other women. I am an orthodox Jew, and we are taught to be modest — even in the presence of only women. I only hope the other women do not think I am a snob.

anonymous Oct 15, 2013 7:52pm

Thank you. Beautiful. I need to read it a few times. I teach people they are beautiful for a living…but we all need reminders especially as the clock continues to roll forward for each of us. So refreshing and comforting to hear your perspective. I have always felt such a connection with my massage therapist, she has become a friend, I truly love and appreciate her for how she helps me.

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 8:22am

Thank you for this article. For sharing with us how you see people as the light that they are! This made me glow in the process.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 1:39pm

Beautifully said. Many thoughts race thru my mind after reading this, but the fact that my heart is now racing, well it must've triggered my heart chakra. thank you so much for sharing this piece. I too am a Massage Therapist and I agree with many points you make in this article. Namaste.

anonymous Sep 28, 2013 8:07am

Cool article, I must agree after decades eventually everything sags, it's gravity.

A project I recently was involved with 'FullyDisclothed.com' did exactly what this post relates to. Shows people in all shapes and sizes.

None of us can escape the effects of ageing, sure we can fix things a little with excercise, diet etc, but enjoy the changes, they are like rings on a tree, and tell our own unique stories.

anonymous Sep 25, 2013 7:01pm

Thank you for your article. I like your points on the letting go! I have been a Massage Therapist for 14 yrs. Most of my clients do not fully undress and I rarely use sheets, the work I do has people getting on and off the table to see what has shifted and to help me move to the next area to work on. My favorite part of the treatment is the "glow" to see the body move to ease and flow as I like to say, is the best. As the body releases and the pain diminishes and the trust builds, the energy flow changes physically, spiritually and mentally. It is so true that Massage Therapists see the body with out social judgement but as a creature that needs to flow and be free from pain.

    anonymous Nov 3, 2013 7:39pm

    If only that were so – your last line. I practiced massage professionally for 30 years, and specialized in Massage for Large Women for the last ten or fifteen of that thirty. My clients told me shameful things their former LMTs had told them about their bodies:

    – Go on a diet. I have something to sell you to help you lose that ugly fat
    – You'll be dead soon if you don't lose weight. I'm only concerned for your health.
    – Have you ever considered weight loss surgery?
    – You have a big ass (stomach, legs, etc.)
    – I'll only massage the middle third of your body because that's how big I think it should be
    -You're the fattest person i've ever massaged
    – I don't want you breaking my table. You didn't tell me you were so overweight and out of shape when you made the appointment.
    – Hey, will you do a hand finish for me? You look like you do.

    And for the record, I have had several massages from Dale. He truly respects my body and has always welcomed me onto his table without disparaging me.

anonymous Sep 23, 2013 9:07pm

Learning to love our bodies takes a lot of time, I think. It comes with the wisdom of being grateful for the faithful heart that has kept beating all along, the breasts that maybe nursed babies and attest to our femininity, the lungs that keep breathing, the legs that have held us up, the arms that have encircled in loving embraces. The temple of the soul should not be disparaged, ever.

anonymous Sep 21, 2013 6:19am

Wow Dale. I love, love, love this article. I can only imagine how better the people of our world would be of we ALL embraced our natural beauty… Cellulite, buttocks, round bellies and all. I’m noticing more now than before, that women are working out to get rid of after birth weight way too soon after baby is born. It’s really not a healthy thing to do either. Photoshop is a lie and we as a society need to understand that. I published a photography book on just that, embracing our natural beauty. Feminine Transitions: A photographic celebration of natural beauty. http://www.FeminineTransitions.com. Thank you for sharing the beauty if our true selves.

anonymous Sep 20, 2013 7:27am

I practiced massage therapy in the past, and I have to say some of the negative comments come from a desire to be clinical. They are, however, half full of crap. Its impossible to stop having feelings, thoughts and emotions. It IS possible to be so absorbed in what you are doing to temporarily have a "single pointed" focus but certainly not all or really most of the time. Emanuela's comments show what is wrong with medicine, facebook culture, and just general bs. You take honest comments out of context and then apply an unrealistic standard. Out of context, in that this is a body image piece. Its not a statement on how other therapists should think and act. It is an extension of his attitude toward the body, which is loving and whimsical. You try to accomplish the same thing but by taking all emotion out- mimicking a doctor…or some other health professional that sees so many people or bodies, that those bodies have become close to an object. Either is fine I suppose but when I want an emotionally healing massage or a relaxation based massage, I think I prefer his approach.

anonymous Sep 19, 2013 7:13pm

I like the ascension to this piece Dale. From a gross form to light (flames). As MT's we are blessed to witness experience.

anonymous Sep 18, 2013 12:09pm

totally in it for the glow.

anonymous Sep 18, 2013 9:01am

Thank you, sir. You made me cry, bu in a good way. 😀

anonymous Sep 18, 2013 8:43am


anonymous Sep 17, 2013 6:19pm

When I read the title I was prepared to find fault with the article. When I read the last few paragraphs, I became determined to find a massage therapist like Dale. Thank you, for a beautifully written piece … And future confidence to let go and glow.

anonymous Sep 8, 2013 8:22pm

I could not agree more with what Leesa wrote. Tears sprang to my eyes unbidden, and I was overcome by the enormous compassion I mentally heard in your words. Thanks.

anonymous Sep 8, 2013 6:44pm

Emmanuel – I would have to agree with Kenny. "Lie down". I love your professionalism and obvious devotion to the field of massage therapy and respect for the body. But there is such a thing as too far, it appears you have become disconnected from the tender human perception. Its seems there are MT individuals lately who are becoming far to concerned with how the public view them rather than just connecting with the public. Isn't that what we are here to do?

anonymous Sep 8, 2013 1:27pm

The editors here at EJ have been lovely, but I was a little taken aback at the photo they chose up top there — yet another model who looks maybe 20 years old &10 pounds underweight, with skin just like Praxiteles makes it. I suppose they have to work fast and it is really surprisingly hard to find realistic images of the bodies I work on every day, bodies like the ones you and I have. I decided that really it just goes to underscore my point: you can't even get an essay about real bodies illustrated with images of real bodies. I do want to stress that that is NOT how I do my draping 🙂

Thanks for the wonderful comments, all! I appreciate them.

    anonymous Sep 8, 2013 1:52pm

    Hi Dale: Thanks for your comment. I'll take a look at the feature photo on your article and change it to fit the piece better. Warmly, Bryonie

    anonymous Jul 3, 2015 6:03am

    you're absolutely right Dale, it's difficult to get good model pictures: their head is not in the head cradle properly forward enough, and the draping? well, they just wanted to show a little skin? lol. You're a great writer and I suspect a great massage therapist also.
    Ditto, I've been therapist for 14 years and writing blogs for seven. I enjoy both very much. This must be a re-peat. All replies are from almost two years ago.

anonymous Sep 8, 2013 2:49am

Emmanuela – my mother used to say: "When a hundred people tell you you're drunk, lie down."
Yours is the unfortunate perspective.
You're not someone that much of us would way to see.

anonymous Sep 8, 2013 2:03am

Thanks a lot.
Ajust some words so people that do no see the meaning behind the words, can understand it as wel. With love

anonymous Sep 7, 2013 7:37pm

I found this just simple, beautiful and honest, and thankfully not intellectual. Just a relaxed and organic observation.. not a visual perspective but more an organic one.. I loved the ending….the peeled back experience of a being. I've been a massage therapist too and a magic can happen in the letting go, the trusting, when someone finally relaxes. 'The out breath'.
Its a no words, 'just being' space… Massage can be deeply healing…
thank you for this.

anonymous Sep 7, 2013 3:52pm

the last paragraph, especially, was beautiful. I was a massage therapist for 13 years, and while I agree with Emmanuela about judgment, still, this was well written and would free people from the fear of being judged rather than create that fear

anonymous Sep 7, 2013 3:37pm

What a wonderful piece, many thanks! I'm a massage-addict and even though I have no issues with my own nudity, you definitely can tell when a therapist has that gift of appreciating the glow… and they glow with you in process.

anonymous Sep 7, 2013 1:31pm

As I begin reading your article, Dale, my heart is open while I take in your words. They are concise and heartfelt, yes, but honestly, they are just a continuation of words which I have been taking in for the last hour while catching up on emails…. until I read:

'Everybody on a massage table is beautiful. There are really no exceptions to this rule.'

Then, I pause only for a second to re-read them, thinking of all the many types of bodies that you must see during your practice.
Though your words convey a lovely thought, I am still somewhat unmoved (perhaps slightly resistant)… until I read:

'At that first long sigh, at that first thought that “I can stop hanging on now, I’m safe” – a luminosity, a glow, begins.' and before I can even begin reading these following words: 'Within a few minutes the whole body is radiant with it. It suffuses the room..,', I feel the 'sigh' in my spirit body and suddenly, I am crying!! (The kind of tears that me by surprise, rushing to the surface so unexpectedly, flooding my eyes and filling my throat with a truth which resonates so wholly that it can't be digested quickly enough.)

This 'truth' is so exquisitely beautiful; it fills my entire being with such precious emotion. I am overcome with such a profound sense of love, words cannot not express sufficiently. Thank you. Thank you.

Perhaps, I'll be able to release my sense of shyness/self-consciousness, and gift myself with a long desired, but never allowed professional massage.

Infinite blessings

    anonymous Sep 18, 2013 1:35pm

    I'm glad I am not the only one who teared up. Not a massage therapist – someone who loves to get a massage, but always worried that the therapist is somehow "disappointed" with my large body. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful thought.

    anonymous Feb 24, 2014 12:58am

    Leesa. You have summed beautifully the exact feelings I had as I read this article. Even the tears, immediate and unstoppable. Much love xx

anonymous Sep 7, 2013 12:02pm

"Men have silly buttocks." And with a sentence you've won me over, cause I think the exact same thing. Such words as these, silly, saggy, plump, rawboned are judgemental. They are adjectives that describe the nature of a body, a characteristic. If someone asked you to describe a body, those are the sorts of words you'd use and they are relatively free of judgement. It's our internal connotation that gives them slant.

I've always wondered what it would be like to be a massage therapist, as I myself am so very reactive to touch and massage is for me a blessed treat I get to indulge in so rarely. Thank you for this revealing peak into a realm that is a mystery to me.

anonymous Sep 7, 2013 11:58am

So lovely! Thank you for your compassionate, and very sensible, words. 🙂

anonymous Sep 7, 2013 9:57am

Claudia, I agree wholeheartedly. Thank you, Dale, for that beautiful message of Love for bodies. I’m reminded that it was a massage therapist who told me, as if it were the most true think I the world, that my heavy body was exactly the size it needed to be. She gave me permission to stop being ashamed of it. Other practitioners over the years have been so tender and accepting that it made me weep and feel love for myself I’d never felt. I’m eternally grateful for those who heal through massage.

anonymous Sep 7, 2013 6:36am

I find this so odd. I've been a massage therapist for 10 years, never have I looked at someone and thought " I can picture what you'd look like on my table" Ever.
And when they are on my table, it has never occurred to me that they are "saggy, or round, or have silly buttocks".
I do, of course, agree with the glow, and that comes with a rapport that genuinely happens over time, some longer than others. But I'm sure if they knew that their therapist was looking at their bodies as something to *judge or *categorize, they would take a bit longer to feel comfortable, more possible, never come back.
My job is therapy, to help others feel better, physically and mentally.
What they look like has absolutely nothing to do with it.

    anonymous Sep 7, 2013 12:41pm

    I think you miss the point here. His acceptance of the differences and non perfection in the human body, finding that perfection in itself, is the point and that my friend is healing.

      anonymous Sep 7, 2013 4:54pm

      It is odd.
      Borderline inappropriate.
      As a therapist, finding a clients' body part or body type "appealing" is completely unprofessional. That has nothing to do with helping the client get back to pain free movement.

        anonymous Sep 8, 2013 1:41am

        He's speaking as a poet and as a human being, expressing an artistic and philosophical side of himself relating to his work – I think massage therapists are allowed that. I think it would be unprofessional if he started telling his clients to their face "your cellulite it cute." 😉 But I feel it is totally ok to share reflections on the human body from a human point of view.

        anonymous Sep 8, 2013 1:42am

        As a massage therapist for 13 years I have to agree. I believe this violates clients’ privacy and I find it inappropriate, as well. As a professional massage therapist I would like my clients to know that I, and most other certified massage therapists, are not looking at their bodies in such a way as to judge them “appealing” or in any other way that does not pertain purely to their body’s functionality.

          anonymous Feb 10, 2014 10:02pm

          If it even occurred to me to think my "massage therapist" had no opinion about my body at all, I'd wonder if they were actually human.

          Everyone has opinions. I would actually prefer my LMT to have an opinion of how I looked than of my body's "functionality" (WTF does that mean?) because all they're *supposed* to be doing is looking. And massaging. And that's it.

        anonymous Sep 8, 2013 1:59am

        Appealing in this sense means: seeing the person for what he/she is. From the point beyond gender or preference. Seeing the beauty of who we really are…..we are not our body, not our mind, but something far behind. The body is an expression of that beauty, that is far behind. Do you understand?

        anonymous Sep 16, 2013 11:13am

        In psychology, we acknowledge that we (the care-giver) will have a whole range of responses to people, from curiosity to disgust to, yes, sexual attraction. Recognizing that those feelings are there is one of the most important things you can do as a care-giver. In terms of ‘ethics’ I am MUCH more concerned when I hear people say things like “no, I’ve never had such-and-such thoughts when working with a client.

          anonymous Oct 5, 2014 9:26pm

          As a medical provider, I agree wholeheartedly with adamaphar. We (medical providers, of any and every type) are human, and as such have human thoughts and feelings. Yes, sometimes they include attraction and desire. At other times they include disgust and revulsion. There are many, many different kinds of people out there, and a few professions (medicine, police, firefighters, and the military come to mind. If I have missed others, my apologies) see much more of how truly evil humanity can be than most people.

          You can either suppress/deny that you are having those thoughts/feelings, which not only harms yourself but puts you at greater risk of saying or doing something inappropriate, or you can simply accept the feeling/thought while not attaching to it, letting it come and go while gently refocusing on what that person needs.

          Believing that your massage therapist, or anyone for that matter, "shouldn't" have a given emotion or thought is much more of a problem than the emotion or thought by itself.

          Obviously, speaking or acting on thoughts/feelings, when inappropriate, is not professional and not healing.

          My 2 cents.

        anonymous Nov 23, 2013 10:11pm

        It’s odd that you think it’s odd. Grow Up and accept your own feelings before you judge someone else. I’d let this fellow massage my silly buttocks any day. Your comment was rude and unwarranted.

        anonymous Feb 10, 2014 10:00pm

        I find hippo sculptures from ancient Egypt appealing and I would never, ever want to have sex with them.

        I find babies appealing. Ditto.

        We can find something appealing without that feeling being inappropriate in any setting whatsoever.

        Postscript: Men *do* have silly butts. But in a cute way. The funny thing is, many of them believe they have no butt at all. I'm not even a masseuse and I knew that.

      anonymous Sep 8, 2013 2:34pm

      Bravo for knowing what he meant!!!! This article is healing!!!!

    anonymous Sep 8, 2013 1:13pm

    Sad Emanueala you missed the whole point of this dialog, I too am a Massage therapist yet very critical off my own self(BODY) this was put in perfect perspective! and a Beautiful piece I found ,very enlightening- and this is how I feel not wanting any of my clients to feel the need to have Body issues, as when they are on my table, they are a client who needs help and I am there un-judgemental to try to accomplish this for them Dale I loved this and will read any more of your work with open eyes and start to get Massage myself now as your clarity is wonderful,- Bless your heart for this !!:-)

    anonymous Sep 8, 2013 1:33pm

    I have to say, as a woman who has always been a bit shy on the massage table, I find this article quite refreshing and liberating. I like knowing that people are not perfect, and that I'm among the norm. I often wonder if I'm the icky client of the day or something. Self-esteem isn't so great. But knowing that even that "perfect 10 body" isn't perfect, and that my body, a little curvier than I'd like, is still beautiful. To be honest, just knowing how the author feels and how you feel, as a client, I would feel more comfortable on his table. He's being honest, real, and human. I'd rather that than an unfeeling robot who has no use for normal, human thoughts.

    anonymous Sep 17, 2013 6:57pm

    I agree- I've been a massage therapist for 16 years and I have found that how I view the body on my table has more to do with the underlying muscles and connective tissue, and energy. I don't really notice what people are afraid I'll notice. I'm jostling your leg to relax the nervous system. It doesn't occur to me that your "fat" is jiggling. But I appreciate what he's trying to say. We find ourselves in the unique position of objective intimacy. Complete strangers come in to our room, disrobe, and be naked with us in ways that they rarely are anywhere else. They often need to express their fear and experience our reassurance. I don't view the body that way, I'm not judging you, and truly truly truly every single body is beautiful. But I must say as a practitioner, I was uncomfortable with the specific way he categorized people's bodies. People's ability to relax and trust me lies in their faith that I'm not just accepting their bodies, but that I'm seeing beyond it. I think that the point Emmanuela is making is that as professionals we are bound to follow strict ethical boundaries. These boundaries are in place to make everyone safe, and while they may seem silly to a lay person, they are vital to us. How he speaks of the body in the context of his profession feels inappropriate to me too, but I appreciate the point he's making. And I love his last line- Beautiful! And yes! That really is what people look like when they stop worrying about what they look like and just let you be with them.

    anonymous Nov 23, 2013 11:51pm

    Emmanuela, I think you are just more pragmatic than Dale. I started dance classes when I was 3. From the time I was about 11, I had started thinking about bodies the way Dale does. Leotards and tights don't leave a lot to the imagination, but I didn't think of it in that way. I just started realizing that everyone is built the same, but everyone is a little different. The differences fascinated me. How could I be skinny, but have people tell me that I "should be a model:" yet the girl dancing next to me was heftier, but SUCH a good dancer, and so pretty? I came to appreciate bodies SO much, and to this day, I love looking at people. It's not a sexual thought to imagine a person as a dancer in a leotard, or a client on a massage table. It's an appreciation. It certainly is not a judgment or a catagorization. Of course what someone looks like has nothing to do with the person they are, but there is a great satisfaction and (again) appreciation of bodies, whether they are "beautiful" or not.

    anonymous Nov 24, 2013 6:26pm

    I agree. I understand and appreciate the point he's trying to make. But the way he does it is creepy.

anonymous Sep 6, 2013 11:51pm

This is a juicy piece and explains why it's always been so easy for me to take off my clothes for a massage. Really, I appreciate the "sheet holding" procedure, but it's not necessary. I love the goal being "the glow." I think therapists like Dale are angels that touch us so that we may let go.

    anonymous Nov 22, 2013 5:49pm

    To those of you “therapists” condemning this man’s sharing thoughts, that are obviously to ease the minds of clients….Boo. Do you not see beyond the words to the true essence of the article. Please step out of your rigid, politically correct, prudish condemnation, and look at this man’s compassionate attempt to let people know that massage therapists are not “seeing” our bodies as something to judge harshly…but instead as pleasant light filled beings. Lighten up! In love..me a sllightly pudgy..somewhat wrinkly potential client who would feel good knowing my therapist thought of me with this caring, humorous and absolute nonjudgemental acceptance.

      anonymous Sep 12, 2015 3:14pm

      I agree! Thank you, Dale. There’s nothing unprofessional about your approach. You are what makes the difference between a therapist who follows the “directions” learned in school, and the one who is truly healing. Something that can’t be learned in school. I see it every day in the hospitals.

Jo Jan Aug 13, 2018 5:39pm

I quite liked this article, especially the part about the glow. You know how you can meet a person for the first time and find them unnatractive, but if they are kind and warm of heart and secure in their own being after a while you will find them beautiful? Like that. That being said, I am a pretty lean person, BMI 19, with soft round breasts, no ass to speak of, lean muscular thighs and no detectable cellulite. Takes all kinds right?

Sonya Ebers Aug 8, 2018 1:16pm

🙏🏼Such a lovely write up from the heart🙏🏼Thankyou Dale

Marilyn Regan Aug 7, 2018 1:32pm

Thanks for your insight. I believe this article is the first of it's kind that I've read.

Sara Jane Jul 9, 2018 12:34am

Very sweet. :)

Cheryl Hansford Corral Apr 29, 2018 3:19am

Thanks for writing this.