This weekend, I treated myself to a massage. I had my first massage on my honeymoon in St. Maarten, and the masseuse had garlicky breath that washed over my face like a hot wind as she said “Breaaaaafe, breaaaafe”, in a Caribbean accent that made me think of Bob Marley and coconuts. It was not amazing, but it felt good enough, but I chalked it up to inexperience, kind of like the first time you have sex. (Sorry, Dad – I’m a married woman now.) There was room for improvement.
When I moved to Los Angeles and got my first big girl job, I splurged and got a deluxe gym membership that included a monthly massage. I fell instantly in love with my masseuse Armissity, a spunky girl about my age who always commented on my pedicure and wore a fake plumeria tucked behind her ear. Her hands felt like magic gliding over my knotted back, and as I felt muscles pull and crack, tension melted like Reeses pieces on a hot summer day. Despite the anti-stress and healing properties of massage, massage has taught me to know my body. Not in the “Fried Green Tomatoes” let’s get hand mirrors and explore type of way, but in the “Wow. This is your body. It does stuff” type of way.
There’s this misconception that some fat people have, or at least I did, that because my body is covered in excess weight, my muscles don’t exist. I have grown used to a body that’s pillowy and soft, never known for rippling biceps or toned, taut calves. Of course I knew I had muscles, they just ceased to exist in my mind. As I became accustomed to massages, I realized that I had muscles – and I didn’t just have them, they DID STUFF. Those tight muscles, that tiny little web that makes up my trapezius – so glorious, so firm, so full of tension. That trapezius holds up my neck and head all day, letting me write this blog or lean forward to work. As she traced my muscles with her finger tips, I could feel the outline of this anatomy, working, breathing, living – trying to desperately to relax, to release the accumulation of weeks of stress, anxiety and thought.
The next most amazing part of a massage is feeling all of the muscles in my arms. My arms are one of my trouble spots – as a heavy woman, I tend to carry a lot of extra weight in my arms, giving me the unfortunate look of wings. I was amazed the first time a masseuse rolled her hands over my upper arms, and muscles emerged like tiny hamsters, poking out of the fat to be released and relaxed. A massage is always worth it in my mind, not just for the “ahhhh” zen moment that emerges, but for showing me and proving to me that despite some 40 extra pounds, my body is full of muscles – glorious, amazing muscles that carry me through my day.
Have you ever had a massage? What’s your favorite part about it?