What People Really Look Like. ~ Dale Favier

Via Dale Favier
on Sep 6, 2013
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Massage

Bonus! Eight things I Learned from 50 Naked People.

I’ve been a massage therapist for many years now. I know what people look like.

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.

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.)

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.

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.

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?

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.

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Assist. Ed: Jade Belzberg/Ed: Sara Crolick


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About 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.

Comments

80 Responses to “What People Really Look Like. ~ Dale Favier”

  1. Lin says:

    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.

  2. Mike says:

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

  3. Angel says:

    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.

  4. Dana says:

    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.

  5. Dana says:

    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.

  6. ilikemytie says:

    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.

  7. Amanda says:

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

  8. Cory says:

    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.

  9. Adam says:

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

  10. Malibu Healer says:

    I am also in it for the glow 🙂

  11. Lauren_Leduc says:

    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.

  12. teaganfea says:

    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!! 🙂

  13. Patricia says:

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

  14. Wade Sims says:

    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.

  15. Drummrgrl says:

    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.

  16. stardust says:

    This is so beautiful, thank you!

  17. valeriewatts says:

    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…

  18. dani says:

    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

  19. Anonymous says:

    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.

  20. MtnMelodie says:

    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!

  21. 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.

  22. Christie says:

    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.

  23. Karen Torrence says:

    Loved the humanity of this article.

  24. Pranic Roger says:

    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.

  25. Priscille says:

    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. ”

  26. Iohn says:

    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.

  27. Michelle says:

    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.

  28. Brisa says:

    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

  29. 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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  30. babz says:

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

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