What real people look like

I’ve been a massage therapist for many years, now. I know what people look like. People have been undressing for me for a long time. I know what you look like: a glance at you, and I can picture pretty well what you’d look like on my table.

Let’s start here with what nobody looks like: nobody looks like the people in magazines or movies. Not even models. Nobody. Lean people have a kind of rawboned, unfinished look about them that is very appealing. But they don’t have plump round breasts and plump round asses. You have plump round breasts and a plump round ass, you have a plump round belly and plump round thighs as well. That’s how it works. And that’s very appealing too.

Woman have cellulite. All of them. It’s dimply and cute. It’s not a defect. It’s not a health problem. It’s the natural consequence of not consisting of photoshopped pixels, and not having emerged from an airbrush.

Men have silly buttocks. Well, if most of your clients are women, anyway. You come to male buttocks and you say – what, this is it? They’re kind of scrawny and the tissue is jumpy because it’s unpadded; you have to dial back the pressure, or they’ll yelp.

Adults sag. It doesn’t matter how fit they are. Every decade, an adult sags a little more. All of the tissue hangs a little looser. They wrinkle, too. I don’t know who put about the rumor that just old people wrinkle. You start wrinkling when you start sagging, as soon as you’re all grown up, and the process goes its merry way as long as you live. Which is hopefully a long, long time, right?

Everybody on a massage table is beautiful. There are really no exceptions to this rule. At that first long sigh, at that first thought that “I can stop hanging on now, I’m safe” – a luminosity, a glow, begins. Within a few minutes the whole body is radiant with it. It suffuses the room: it suffuses the massage therapist too. People talk about massage therapists being caretakers, and I suppose we are: we like to look after people, and we’re easily moved to tenderness. But to let you in on a secret: I’m in it for the glow.

I’ll tell you what people look like, really: they look like flames. Or like the stars, on a clear night in the wilderness.”

Dale Favier, What People Really Look Like (Portland Home Massage, September 2, 2013)


  1. Whew! I’m feeling better already.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing a fascinating post, David. I am a huge proponent of the health benefits of massage, especially when my over 25 year career is as a Dental Hygienist.
    I occasionally wonder about the perspective from the therapist’s view. I recall many years ago reading something from Andrew Weil (a health guru in my books) where he said…and I am paraphrasing…one of the benefits of massage is an hour of ‘letting go’ …a priceless benefit in today’s overstimulated world.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cannot begin to describe how much I love this. Massage is an essential part of my ‘wellness kit’ and has been for years…. Have always felt that when I’m on that table, my body is in tacit dialogue with the therapist’s, this elemental dance of skin on skin, muscles yielding to pressure, relaxing under a knowing touch, tendons and ligaments relinquishing their grip on stressors and tensions that have held sway much too long. I always walk away from a session feeling looser, lighter, more centered. In my book, massage therapists = angels.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. What a beautiful thing to read. If anyone has doubts about what they look like or are perceived, I am sending them his way!
    As for the benefits of massage… oh man, oh man. I am overdue.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. that was wonderful. Dale sounds like someone who really enjoys his job, and his clients.

    and does this mean I can stop trying to hold my belly in all the time? 🙂


  6. this is incredibly beautiful


  7. And you don’t look like real people?


  8. That about summarizes it

    Liked by 1 person

  9. There is always an exchange of energy when a therapist touches a client. Sometimes it is unidirectional, negative or positive, other times it goes both ways. Not everyone has the magic touch but you’ll know when you find the healer who does; he’ll be the one who makes you glow. I suspect Dale reaps as much as he sows. That is a true gift to the universe. Making a living at it is an extra bonus. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Whole heartedly agree.
    At any age, the human body glows when touched.

    Now, how do I know?
    Yours truly got so bored the first few months of the pandemic that I decided to go finish training to be a CNA, certified nurse assistant. Part of the training was 80 hours hands on. I came to the same conclusion as Dale here after a number of baths for elderly residents. On my last day I think gave a bath to an older gentleman in his late 80s. One could still see he was handsome in his days. In the beginning he kept saying, “How embarrassing!” But he got comfortable eventually. And yes, you see the glow.

    When touched, when loved, human radiance is restored.
    Touch = Love

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So beautiful, and deeply thoughtful. So glad that Dale could put his experience into words. I encouraged the young mentally ill people I worked with (over 40 years ago!) to experience and enjoy being touched. They were so wound up and locked up. We did this in Dance Therapy, and had them put their hands gently on the shoulders of the one in front of them. I remember demonstrating touch with one young man by massaging his hand. He said, “you’re damaging my flesh.” [yikes!] At the session the next week, he said “you really have the tender touch.” So many people are not touched, and I realized that these young people were no different. Mental illness separates people in many ways.


  12. “They look like stars”…indeed…I love this

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You mean I’m normal? 😊


  14. Touching.


  15. Couldn’t agree more. So wise!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Reblogged this on renplus and commented:
    Right now I feel like I’m a flame with some new material to be burnt, some old stuff that is turning to ash. I miss the ability to be on a massage table comfortably. Maybe it will return. Maybe.


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