What I Learned From Massaging An Obese Woman

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I’ve massaged lots of overweight people, but she was obese.

As she stood in front of me, I met her eyes and searched in my heart for the openness and acceptance I’d need for this massage. I wanted her to feel safe.

But I was freaking out!

Would the massage table be strong enough? Would she fit on it? What if it collapsed? She was huge!

I left the room to allow her time to get on the table and calmed myself. Deep breaths.

I entered the room. Her body was spread over the table. Overlapping, everywhere, soft wobbly flesh.

I began to massage her, navigating the expanse of her enormous back. It was the biggest, fattest body I’d ever touched.

Then I found my rhythm, I tuned into the contours of her back. I swept over the deep creases between the rolls of fat. I began to appreciate the beauty of her form, the softness of her skin, the malleability, the fullness, the receptiveness of her body.

My strokes moved in harmony with her breath. I sent love and energy through my hands. There was no revulsion, no judgement, no fear. Simply the connection of my hands on another human being.

When the massage ended, I left the room to give her time to dress.

I felt relief. And shame that I’d initially reacted so badly to her size. She was a beautiful person who seemed completely comfortable in her body. But I didn’t know this for sure.

Often very overweight clients will apologise for their size or make a comment about it. “I hope this is a strong table?” or “I know, there’s a lot of me.” I imagine there’s a fear of being judged by the therapist, that they’ll be grossed out by the excess weight.

I always try and look beyond the external appearance and yes, to massage an obese person requires lots of energy. It’s about being receptive to what that person or body needs. I find athletes with hard, muscly bodies just as much work.

As I watched her walk away that day, I felt happy I’d given her such a lovely massage, gotten over myself and my worries about her size.

I was also really impressed by her ease and acceptance of her body — no apologies or side comments.

I don’t know how she felt about her body. All I know is the experience of massaging her caused me to reflect upon the warped perception I often have of my own body.

Regardless of my size or weight on the scales, one of my biggest challenges is to feel good about my body. It’s a daily battle to look in the mirror and really like or even LOVE what I see. I know I’m not alone. Most women I know are unhappy with their bodies.

I have a friend with a beautiful body. She doesn’t think so!

She’s on a constant quest to lose those ‘5 extra kilo’s’. I’ve been hearing this from her for over 20 years! Over that time she has resorted to liposuction twice, a tummy tuck, and two boob jobs. And she’s always on some sort of diet plan.

Is she any happier with her body?

I’m not against anyone getting help to improve their body shape — cosmetic surgery can do amazing things for some people. What concerns me is the constant seeking for more and when that one more thing is achieved, only then will you be happy with your body.

There are so many disturbing trends developing. It’s not just a boob or nose job now, it’s becoming way more intricate. Chopping off bits of labia in a labiaplasty is now a popular option particularly with younger women.

A woman who recently underwent a labiaplasty says,

“We’re in this body positive era which is great, but we’re looked down upon if we want to change something,” she said. “If you can do something that is going to make you happier, why wouldn’t you do that?”

How about choosing to love and accept your body now? How about digging deep and finding your happiness from within? How about realising your body may never be 5 kgs lighter? Or that your labia is perfect as it is?

Maybe it’s time to give up the endless worrying and wasted moments of wishing you had a different body.

I have a daughter who struggles with her weight.

I affirm her by focussing on who she is, her gifts, her inner beauty. Teaching her that she is so much more than her external appearance. She’s gorgeous.

She worries about getting a boyfriend.

“I see other big women with boyfriends, so I know it’s not about my size. It’s about feeling good about myself regardless of my weight.”

And that’s the truth of it.

Regardless of our body size or appearance,

it’s how we feel about ourselves that matters.

I have another friend who is very overweight and loves to wear close-fitting jumpsuits. She looks incredible. Her bum is ginormous! And I can’t take my eyes off it. It’s so sexy. She rocks it, completely. No shame. Just glorious, curvy, voluptuous woman.

We are so much more than we appear, so much more than our physical body.

The real gift we can give another is to see beyond the external appearance. To not judge, condemn or criticize because they look fat, weird or different from us.

The gift we can give to ourselves is self-love and acceptance. To look in the mirror and say,

“Hey body, you’re so beautiful.

Thank you for sustaining me.

I’m lucky to have you.”

Speaker, Writer, Coach, Massage Therapist, Creator of joyful life moments. www.leekellycoaching.com

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