Monday, November 4, 2013

Fat (n.): "best or most rewarding part"

Fat and beautiful are not opposites
Allow me to sing the praises of fat massage.

I work a lot with fat clients*. I've been fat all my life, and I've been fat and pregnant twice, so I know just how frustrating it can be to worry about whether I will be safe and feel secure when I see a new massage therapist on a new table. Before even starting school, I resolved that in my practice bodies of all size would be welcome and would feel celebrated.

Massaging fat bodies both is and isn't different than massaging thinner bodies. I've had massage where it felt like the therapist didn't want to touch my fat -- which is to say, they didn't want to touch me -- as though it were contagious, or didn't need touch, or that I'd be upset if reminded of the abundance of my flesh. To which I say, both as a fat person and as a massage professional: hooey.

With thinner clients, an LMT can get away with a very superficial touch, gliding over the skin yet still, slightly, massaging the muscular layer. Working with a fat client calls me to slow down, to sink deep, to differentiate between the layers of the body, to feel what I'm doing.

On the other side, I've heard some LMTs complain they don't like working with fat clients because they can't "access" the deeper layers of the body, but this only shows they either have no experience, no idea what they're doing, or no willingness to learn. We absolutely can access all the same parts (and sometimes more easily!) as on a thinner body; fat clients can and should get the same quality massage as any other client.

I have never had a body on my table I didn't think was beautiful; I've never had a body on my table I didn't enjoy massaging. And yet, sometimes, fat is the "best or most rewarding part".

*Why do I use the word "fat"? Well, why not? The word "overweight" implies that there is some weight that I, a fat woman, am "over", "obesity" is a clinical term defined by the ratio of height to weight and says nothing about the corpulence of the body in question, and "fluffy" is a great descriptor... for a kitten. Because I do not believe fat is a bad thing to be, I do not think of "fat" as a bad word, any more than other relative descriptive words like "tall" and "young".

CC image credit: Mattias H on Flickr

Definition of fat via Etymonline.

This post is part of NaBloPoMo, where I blog every day for 30 days. If you'd like to make sure you don't miss a day (unless I do), you can follow the RSS feed or get emailed every post by signing up to the right; if you'd like to be emailed only the weekly highlights, as well as updates about the practice and tips on improving your relationship with your body, subscribe to the Holding Space Massage Newsletter.


  1. I love this article! The best massages I've had were with therapists who were able to access my muscle through my fat, and do it well-- those massages connected me to my strength in my body and were very healing and energizing for me, but of course the therapists attitude toward my body- accepting and nurturing- was so important also, and I love that you do not shame yourself or your clients.

    1. Thanks, Miss Thing! I think most massage therapists are quite good at really accepting and celebrating all the bodies on the table in front of them, but there's something extra wonderful, to me, in connecting with a therapist who's explicitly positive toward bodies like mine -- not to mention who has the experience of how to work with bodies with more fat.


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