A group of over 300 people rode their bikes through Columbus streets last week… naked.  I wish I had been present for the experience. Not that I would have ridden. I am not that brave. But to witness that. To feel that energy. That expression of self-love, acceptance and freedom. I can only imagine the smiles, the laughs, the stares. The double-takes, and panic attacks. Yes, I would liked to have been there.

As a massage therapist and energy healer, I see alot of different bodies and expressions of self.  Tall, short.  Fat, thin.  Muscular, lean.  Hairy, and not.  Masculine, feminine, and somewhere in the middle.  There are the people that love their bodies.  Then there are the majority of folks ~ those who struggle with, dislike, or even hate, their bodies or parts of it.  Maybe because it doesn’t fit their vision of who they are as a human being.  Maybe because of the “imperfections” ~ big or small, real or perceived.  People who were born that way and those who became that way…

As perfectly imperfect humans, we tend to have judgement.  Especially judgement about bodies.  Our own and other peoples’.  The thing about judgement is…  Any judgement is self-judgement.  Even when we are criticizing someone else, we are really criticizing ourselves. One of the things my dad always told me as a kid was that we are more than our bodies.  And we are.  So much more.  But that’s another conversation.

This week I heard a commencement speech about the differences in vocations, careers and jobs that got me to thinking about how I have been literally pulled down this path, sometimes kicking and screaming.  I remember when I told my mom that I was going to massage school she said, “That will be so good for you!”.  I didn’t realize just how right she would be.   Before school began, one of my friends asked, “What will you do if you have to massage a big, hairy guy?!”  My response was pretty straight forward, “No big deal.”  I wasn’t worried or concerned about any of the different bodies that might appear on my table.  I had been rubbing people for decades already, worked in hospitals & nursing homes, came from a big family…  and felt like I’d pretty much do fine with any body.

What I wasn’t prepared for was being on the table.  Learning to receive massage.  Learning to come back into my body.  A body I didn’t know, understand or like.  A body I didn’t know I’d left, and certainly didn’t know when I’d left it.  While I knew that it would be good for me, and that it was where I was meant to be, I definitely didn’t know just how much massage school was going to change my life.           

I often hear people talk about health care practitioners who are overweight or who smoke, in a negative or judgemental fashion.  It may come from a place of concern about their health, or from an expectation of professionalism; and while I understand and respect both of those points, as a fat chick, I would like to bring up the human factor.  This is not an excuse, just my reality.  I am on a journey, just like the rest of you. 

I want to begin a dialogue, spark a conversation.  Dispel the judgement.   Tell the truth.  About what it’s like to be in my body.  And in your body.  Share our stories.  Take off our masks, and feel safe in the support of each other to tell the things our bodies have been through.  Through the tears, the laughs, the horrors and the victories…  let’s honor our bodies, and our selves.  Will you join me?