The decision to be undressed
during your massage is up to you. While
it is strongly recommended, it is not necessary for you to undress
completely. Any clothing
will, however, interfere with the natural flow of the massage, preclude
the use of certain techniques, and prevent a true and complete TBM.
Your body is your whole body – and an important part of your
whole Self. Your nude body is you in your most basic state.
A nude body is not a body lacking something (that is, clothing). Rather, a clothed person is a
whole and complete naked body, plus
In the end, the decision to be undressed during your massage
is up to you. This page will provide you with more information to help you decide – not make the
decision for you. If you have
any concerns, you should discuss these with your massage therapist BEFORE
the massage begins.
IF I DON'T WANT TO UNDRESS?
Other forms of massage that
do not require undress are also available.
JKD acupressure (acupressure therapy) and Healing Touch are two of
these that allow you to remain dressed.
It may be beneficial to work slowly until you feel safe and
comfortable with your massage therapist before moving to TBM if you have
never received massage before.
People wear clothing for many
reasons: protection against the elements, to provide for a social sense of
decency and modesty, and as a fashion statement.
You should ask yourself your reasons for wearing clothing, and then
weigh the need for clothing versus the benefits received from massage.
Robert Henley Woody writes, "fear of revealing one's body is a
defense. To keep clothing on at all times when it is unnecessary for
social protocol or physical comfort is to armor oneself in a manner that
will block new behaviors that could introduce more healthful and rewarding
alternatives; and promote psychological growth." [i]
KIND OF FEARS TO PEOPLE USUALLY HAVE ABOUT NUDITY?
Most people who are concerned about being nude – even in a clinical
setting – are concerned about being embarrassed or ashamed about their
bodies. The best way to overcome this kind of shyness is to examine
yourself in a mirror while nude and note the positive aspects of your
body. The modern media is
full of ‘perfect’ people that we all tend to measure ourselves
against. This is unrealistic
however, and if you pay attention to the vast majority of people, everyone
has a unique physique and everyone is uniquely beautiful.
sociological pressure of modern America has caused most of us to have a
strong sense of modesty. Our
parents taught us that being nude was somehow naughty and wrong without
providing us with a rational basis for why.
This idea is a modern concept.
Few people realize that swimsuits, as we know them today, are a
relatively recent concept. The idea of wearing special clothing to swim in
is barely a century old.
desire for clothing in the modern era is almost entirely psychological.
“Many of today’s styles [of clothing] are deliberately designed
to dress our psyche rather than to conceal our bodies.
… [T]he very thought of being naked, except in our most intimate
moments, so embarrasses most of us that we still call on our lawmakers to
protect us from viewing others in such a state. We seem to exhibit a phobia about nakedness that was not
present in earlier civilizations – a phobia that serves to keep us from
accepting ourselves as we really are.
We behave as if only a clothed person is a complete person. A naked person minus his clothes is lacking some important
part of himself. Yet, we are
all aware that human babies start life completely naked.
If a naked child is complete and perfect, then regardless of the
child’s sex, education, wealth, race, religion, or cultural inheritance,
that child will remain naked for the rest of its life.
Those items of clothing or adornment which he or she decides are
proper or fit to wear in order to adapt to a socially and/or sexually
acceptable norm are added – extra – covering the real person who
exists inside them… [In] this technological age of central heating and
air conditioning we still continue to wear clothes, even on the most
informal occasions when it would be more comfortable and far easier for us
to go naked. We are, in fact,
addicted to clothing.” [ii]
Massage is one such time when clothing is neither comfortable nor
associate nudity with sex, and therefore worry that nudity may be sinful
or immodest. In the setting
of a massage however, the purpose of being nude is far from being sexual.
Pope John Paul II agrees that nudity, in and of itself, is not
sinful. "The human body in itself always has its own inalienable
human dignity," he says. It is only obscene when it is reduced to
"an object of 'enjoyment,' meant for the gratification of
concupiscence itself." [iii] "Sexual modesty
cannot then, in any simple way, be identified with the use of clothing,
nor shamelessness with the absence of clothing and total or partial
nakedness… Immodesty is
present only when nakedness plays a negative role with regard to the value
of the person, when its aim is to arouse concupiscence, as a result of
which the person is put in the position of an object for enjoyment…
There are certain objective situations in which even total nudity
of the body is not immodest." [iv]
Massage plays a positive role with regard to the value of the
person, and recognizes innate human dignity.
The association with
nudity and sin is a modern development. Old Testament ceremonial washings,
including baptism, were performed in the nude. [v]
Christ, too, was probably baptized naked as depicted in numerous
early works of art. [vi]
For the first several centuries of Christianity, it was the custom to
baptize men, women, and children together nude. This ritual played a very
significant role in the early church. The accounts are numerous and
SHOULD I DO?
Many people, even after understanding
the issue, are not entirely comfortable being completely nude with a new
massage therapist. If you
want to be nude during your massage, but aren’t entirely comfortable
doing so, then you should start from where you are comfortable until you
have built up trust in your massage therapist.
If you are not comfortable being nude – and never will be –
then you should discuss this with your massage therapist.
Some people like to start with just an upper-body back massage for
a few sessions until they feel comfortable with their massage therapist.
This allows them to leave their lower-body garments in place so
that they have a feeling of security.
They may then decide to remove more clothing to receive a more
thorough massage and allow the massage therapist to work the entire back
of their body. Eventually, after ten or more sessions, they may decide to
Even if you are
comfortable with your massage therapist, and comfortable being nude, you
will not progress to TBM right away.
You will receive two or three sessions of incomplete TBM.
This allows you to get used to your massage therapist – and for
your massage therapist to learn about you, your body, and your needs.
Proceeding too quickly can be a shock to your system physically,
mentally, and emotionally.
Our recommendation from personal
experience is to receive a full and complete TBM, which requires total
nudity. We feel that after
you have received one, you will wonder why you were hesitant in the
beginning. Our recommendation
aside, you have many options and choices, and a massage with your clothes
on is better than no massage at all.
You may discuss your feelings and
beliefs with your therapist, and discuss various viewpoints, but - in the
end - the decision to be nude or not is up to you.
Your views and beliefs will be respected, and if you have any
special concerns or desire any accommodation, you should discuss these
with your massage therapist. If you are still not comfortable, you may want to seek a same
sex massage therapist, or alternative forms of therapy.
IF I HAVE OTHER QUESTIONS?
You are always free to ask your massage therapist any
questions, or to discuss any concerns – no matter how small you think
they may be. There are also
other pamphlets, such as this one, to help answer questions you may have.
Robert Henley. The Use of Massage in Facilitating Holistic Health:
Physical and Mental Effects. Springfield, Ill.: Thomas, 1980.
Importance of Wearing Clothes.
Los Angeles, CA: Elysium 1991.
"Spirituality." Clothed with the Sun 1.3 (1981):
John Paul II 176, 190, 191.
Margaret R. Carnal Knowing: Female Nakedness and Religious Meaning in
the Christian West. Boston: Beacon, 1989. pp 34.
The famous Ravenna mosaic, for instance, clearly depicts Christ being
baptized nude. See also Giovanni di Paoloi's 15th century painting "The
Baptism of Christ."
An extensive list of sources may be found in Jonathan Smith 220,
footnote 12. See also pp.
222-24, 227, 235-37; Miles, chapter 1, esp. pp. 33-34; Cunningham
49-50; Danielou 38-39; Ward, "Why Must Public Nudity" 97; B.
Easton 46; and Mackey 42.