72 Sohier Rd. Beverly, MA

Sage Healing Massage, Massage Therapist Colleen Johnson in Beverly, MA logo

(978) 712-0594

Let’s talk about body image and stereotypes. This has been done before, but it’s personal for me, and I feel that the issue of (self) body image and how it relates to massage needs to be addressed.

Are there visual stereotypes for what the “ideal” massage client should look like?  The marketing gurus of the world would have you believe so.  Do a quick search of stock massage photos and you will almost always see the same thing; a toned white woman, usually a brunette, on a massage table in soft lighting.  Maybe there’s a flower in her hair, a candle, or stones on her back but the aesthetics remain.  There are fewer images of men but, almost all are muscular, and to the trained eye the massage work looks to be much deeper.

These images project a simple yet ridiculous message; massage is for thin or athletic people.  Women should be pampered and be allowed to relax, and men should only have deep work done to ease the aches and pains of their days of hard work and toil.

So, what if you don’t look like these people? You might hesitate to book a massage… That’s what I did!  I would wait until I felt absolutely awful because I didn’t fit that stereotype, and I didn’t like the way I looked.  I did not want a stranger to see me naked or touch me.  I feared that the massage therapist would judge me or be grossed out.  Unaware at the time, I believed the message those stock photos conveyed; I was not the right shape and size for massage.  I believed that a person needs to be thin or athletic to get a massage and needed to look that way to get that level of care.

Further, before I went to school for massage I would have to be in serious pain before even considering booking an appointment with a therapist.  Please don’t misunderstand, getting a massage because of pain is a good reason but, it isn’t the only reason.  Simply, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  Had I known I would have gone regularly, not waiting until the pain was so bad I could justify spending the money on myself for a massage.  That’s how I felt about it at the time.  This may seem completely ridiculous to you.  Or maybe you can identify with those feelings.

Now, as a professional massage therapist on the other side of the table I can tell you nothing could be further from the truth.  There is no judgment.  Zero.  Everybody has skin, bones, muscles and yes, even fat.  Everybody deserves massage no matter their size, shape, weight or the color of their skin.  Everyone has something about their body they don’t like or would like to change.  It doesn’t matter if your abs aren’t rock hard, and light pressure is okay if they are.  Talk to your therapist about what’s best for you.

Finally, on my journey through all of this, I was surprised to learn that once I got past all of these stereotypes and notions of judgment, it was easier to start treating myself with kindness and get the care I needed. All of the things I didn’t like about my body seemed to fade. And while it may not be perfect, this is the only body I’ll get. So, I no longer wait until the pain is unbearable or feel the need to justify spending the money.

Massage can make you feel more comfortable in your own skin and help you recognize and accept the features that make it unique to you.  Your body is fantastic just the way it is, so forget about the weight or fitness goals before booking an appointment.  You deserve better!