No, this is not a response to that hideous fat hating YouTube video that made the rounds last year. It is my pure hearted invitation for you to step outside your comfort zone and do something body/wellness related that you’ve always wanted to try but have been afraid to do.
When I first started out as a massage therapist I worked at a very friendly massage spa. The owner was very happy to have me there with my focus on working on diverse bodies and my body affirming outlook. And in the year that I worked there, I massaged a grand total of 1 fat person. Now the spa owner didn’t gear her marketing to bring in that target client for me, and I was busy doing that for my private practice, but you know, there’s a lot of people in the Bay Area and this spa booked a lot of massages and very few of them were folks with larger bodies. I don’t blame fat people for opting out, not wanting to take a chance with our time and money on getting bodywork from an unknown entity. We face very real weight based stigma in all kinds of settings, but in particular medical settings, and it is incredibly vulnerable to be getting on a table not knowing how you’ll be received.
In massage school I created a survey asking folks with larger bodies about their experiences around massage. The responses included a few awful stories, many more stories of folks being surprised and delighted by their non-judgemental and healing experiences, but one thing jumped out at me, 100% of the people who answered that they’ve never tried a massage said their main concern was being judged by the massage therapist.
Yeah I get it.
I really do.
I know what it feels like to opt out of activities for fear of being judged. Like the time I couldn’t meet my friends at a day spa, I stopped in the parking lot, turned around and went back home. And that was ok, it was what self-care felt like that day.
I’ve received the life changing gift of being “given permission”.
A decade ago at NOLOSE, a queer fat activist conference I attend, a woman I was in a workshop with was talking about visiting a chiropractor for some arm pain and a lightbulb went off in my head, OMG I can go see a chiropractor? Honestly, until another fat person talked about their positive experience with chiropractic care, I never thought about it as something I could access. By sharing her experience, she made me feel like it was possible to explore this as an option for self care.
Same thing with yoga, I’ve been wanting to do yoga for 20+ years, and until there was fat/curvy yoga and people who understood how to adapt yoga to work with my body, I couldn’t bring myself to go into a class even though there might have been a teacher here or there who would have met me where I was. I needed the explicit invitation and acknowledgement that my body has just as much value as a thin person, but that also I might have needs that are different in order to be able to perform a particular posture or task.
I said the other day after having an awesome session with a new client who happens to be fat, that whenever I massage a fat person, an angel gets their wings. So much of the time, my new clients tend to be smaller folks who resonate with my body positive mission and are drawn to my judgement free massage practice. I LOVE that. My services are for EVERYBODY.
But there’s something incredibly special about giving a fat person their first ever professional massage. Or to give someone a massage that didn’t hurt because I understand their body, or because I have tools on the table to make laying down more comfortable. Plus, I can teach you the “where to put your hands” trick while receiving bodywork because I know…
I’ve been there myself and I work with lots of bodies just like yours.
If you’ve never experienced it, what would it feel like to know that your body is valid and deserves to feel good and be treated with reverence and respect? I will honor you and where you’re at, without judgement and with kindness. I invite you to explore the boundaries of your comfort zone and if you’ve always wanted to try a massage, book an appointment, or shoot me an email if you have questions. Booking online is easy – http://debmalkin.com/bookmassage/