“I hope you don’t mind a little bald head.”
“My skin is kinda dry from the cold.”
“I just didn’t have time to shave today.”
“I need a pedicure.”
(stomach gurgles) “Oh! I’m so sorry!”
This is just a short sample of the hundreds of different ways clients apologize to me about their bodies. I’m sure every massage therapist can relate. Our clients come in and trust us enough to let us touch them, but they still want to make sure we therapists are comfortable.
This has led me to establish The Rule. Outside of bigotry or sexual innuendo, I try not to have rules about what clients should or should not say. My office is a safe, private space. Sometimes people need a place to say out loud the scary or possibly unaccepted thing they are thinking about their lives.
But, one day, I had enough of the above, so I now have The Rule, which is:
You don’t apologize for your body.
And The Subrule, which is:
You don’t make anyone else feel that they need to apologize for their body.
Most of my clients are women. Many of my clients are facing or have faced significant medical challenges which have altered, scarred, or otherwise changed their bodies. Most of these changes fall outside the subjective norms of “what women are supposed to look like.” I aim to create at least one place in the world where any person can feel comfortable and confident that their body is not under any sort of judgement. That they are accepted and valued for who and what they are right now. That on my table and in my space, everyone– EVERYONE– is beautiful.
I grew up the official fat kid of my elementary school. I remember feeling the need to apologize for my body every single day. When my clients started apologizing to me, I felt tremendous empathy for them. Those things they apologize for do not disrupt their massage or offend anyone. Whether you have or don’t have hair and where it is on your body, the condition of your skin, the state of your feet — any of that and more — has no bearing on your worth as a person.
And that last one, the stomach noises? That happens when your body is deeply relaxed. That right there is massage applause.