I was reading this article today called Eight things I Learned from 50 Naked People. The author, Kate Bertolotta, talks about things she observed about people while she was a massage therapy student. Reading her observations made me think about the time I had been a massage therapist eons ago (we are talking almost two decades folks). I come from a family that is not very touchy. By touchy I mean they don’t hug a lot. Not saying they are mean or anything but I didn’t grow up around huggers. Once I was in high school I joined a youth peace group and let’s just say I was definitely a hugger when I graduated. But I still wasn’t comfortable with skin. I certainly hated mine, I grew up and out fast and had stretch mark reminders everywhere. Mixed with moles, scars, and other imperfections and I tried not to think about my skin much. I was also fairly uncomfortable about seeing too much of anyone else’s skin as well. But maybe that’s just being a teenager.
So how did I end up becoming a massage therapist, where all you do is rub your hands over miles and miles of skin you ask? See at this point in my life I was still very much a hippie child and convinced myself I wanted to be a healer. However, my memorization of herbs and their uses sucked so instead I went for massage. At first I just kind just zoned out while I went through the motions. But I think it was the time that I had to spend an entire HOUR on one arm and shoulder that I fell in love with skin. The client had pulled something really bad and she didn’t want me to touch anything else, just make the shoulder and arm feel better. Well in the swedish method I had learned you only had five minutes worth of technique to work with, so after going through it a couple of times I knew it wasn’t going to work. So I started gently poking and prodding her muscles to figure out why this shoulder wouldn’t let go of the tension. Along the way I feel in love, with skin that is. I noticed every little freckle, the beautiful way her skin tanned and the little spots that didn’t quite match. I noticed how the skin had a slightly different texture where the muscles were tight, from being stretched no doubt, her muscles were really wound tightly. If I had not fell in love I probably would’ve never made it through that session or the next almost year of massage. The pay sucked (I split about 50/50 with the owner and we weren’t that busy most days) and my back was really starting to give me fits. But the benefits of getting to explore miles and miles of skin without being considered a pervert was worth it.
Have you ever touched a older persons skin? It feels like silky tissue paper, so delicate yet so strong. Scars are interesting too, they tell stories. So does the places you hold tension. I’ve heard more than one person say they don’t like their freckles and I want to tell them that they are so lucky to have them. I have fairly bumpy skin. I’m not sure why, it’s either hundreds of little raised moles or ingrown hairs. I’m not exactly pleased with them, there are days I truly wish for one color even skin tone, but then I run my fingers over my bumpy arms and remember that I couldn’t feel those with smooth skin.
The most interesting skin I’ve ever seen was during one massage session. I move the sheet from this man’s leg to reveal a hip to ankle port wine birthmark. It was sort of a washed out cherry color and only covered half his leg, the other half was near porcelain white. It was the most fascinating thing I had ever seen. I admit I gawked. The client assured me it didn’t hurt him and it wasn’t contagious. I think he thought I was afraid to touch him. I wasn’t, if anything I couldn’t wait to delve in, but I was also mentally going through my training to remember if there was any special precautions with this type of birthmark like there is with varicose veins.
In the end it was one of the most enjoyable massages I ever gave. Not just because I got to see the birthmark but because the gentleman was very comfortable in his skin. He had to be in his 60s at least and told me jokes about how he had used the birthmark to get out of things. Apparently it kept him out of the war (I can’t remember WWII or Korea). Maybe that’s something that comes with age, not being ashamed of the skin we are in.
Okay now that you’ve heard what a skin admirer has to say about it. Go read her observations and enjoy the skin you’re in.