You ever hear someone say “just give a good massage and you’ll get clients” or…
The other day I was having a conversation with a newer friend and we got to talking about the massage industry, and she said something to the effect of “isn’t it weird just….doing that, like rubbing on naked people.” And my response was something like “yeah, it’s kind of a weird profession when you think about it that way, but for us it’s just an everyday normal thing.” And it got me thinking, we’re a weird profession, and it’s actually really important to remind ourselves of that sometimes.
For many people, what we do is kind of weird. And while yeah, we can be as professional as possible and use the right terms….you know making sure we call it a table, never a bed, and linens instead of sheets, and “perform a massage” instead of “doing a client”, and undress or dress down instead of “get naked”, “massage” instead of “rubbing” and all those things. But you know, we are in fact rubbing on naked strangers, and for many, that’s a little weird. And I say it like this for a reason; because it’s really important that we get a reality check into public perception; reminding ourselves what it’s like to be an outsider to this industry. What it’s like to be a brand new client who has never had a massage before, who is being asked by some stranger to remove their clothing and lie completely nude or semi-nude under a sheet and blanket and let this stranger touch them in a very intimate way; obviously not inappropriate or romantic type of intimacy, but there is an intimacy in what we do. This is a very personal thing; something that requires a serious amount of trust. We’re asking someone to make themselves very vulnerable and it’s crucial that we remember that vulnerability. There are stresses, traumas, comforts, and personal experiences that all lend to how a client will handle the situation and respond to certain ways of communicating, respond to our movement around the table and from one body part to another. There’s a lot of nuance here with each client and it’s so important that we respect and honor each client that graces our table with their presence.
For some, hopping on a table is no big deal. For others, this is a massive step in trauma recovery, and there’s everything in between. And we need to be cognizant of that as we tailor not only our client experience and everything on the table, including offering clothed work for those uncomfortable with undressing, but also in our marketing language and how we are perceived by our ideal clients.
So I just hope this serves as a quick reminder today that for many in the public, what we do is weird, but it’s also extremely valuable and needed by so many, so it’s important we recognize our weirdness and speak to our clients the way they need us to.