There was a time when I was constantly aware of my body shape. And I know round is also a shape, but that is usually said by those of us who need to “defend” or “feel good about” the fact that we are overweight. All kinds of euphemisms are used. Words like “big-boned” (how they can see they are big-boned under all that fat is beyond me and, have you ever seen a fat skeleton?) and words like “plus-sized” also do the rounds. As long as you don’t call us “fat”. And, unfortunately, that is what we are: we are fat! And irrespective of the reasons that turned you into the shape you are in, let us call a bitch a spade…you basically have two options: do something about it if you are unhappy with your shape, or be okay with the fact that you are fat! And, understand that no euphemism is going to change that.
As summer approaches, the layers of clothing need to be shed – layers that fat people love, as they can hide the layers of fat under those layers of clothing. Then there is the exposure of one’s body to others – during intimacy, or going for a massage.
The latter is something I have grown used to over the years – from humble beginnings when I used to be so painfully aware of my body, shyly removing my clothes, loving the dim lighting, and allowing a stranger to touch me in places some lovers haven’t.
Now I take off all that I need to very easily, as though it has become second nature.
And why was I in a slight panic? For starters, I used to worry about my stretch marks on my behind – like annual rings on a tree trunk, or contour lines, like a map that leads straight to my home entertainment centre. Then I’d worry about what the poor masseuse must be thinking, “What a liberty?” Or, how they might even excuse themselves discreetly and make a quick phone call in private, and have me arrested for bringing the human form into disrepute.
How lovely it is to get older, wiser and knowing your strengths, accepting your weaknesses maturely. And what a feat when eventually you just don’t care so much about the actual physical shape of the vessel that houses your spirit, your truer, infinitely more significant being.
It is an important moment – one that cannot really be pinpointed to any day or week or month. It just happens gradually, creeps up on you like age.
And, when out of the country some of the highlights of my trips were the spa treatments I experienced – especially in Istanbul. They were not unlike the ones I had here – the normal body scrubs and massages. But what I started thinking about were the different pairs of hands that touched me over the years. Have they helped the shaping of my being as they kneaded me as if I were dough, preparing me for an oven? What do they think of when they are so intimately connecting with one’s body? Is there a special bond that one innately senses, one that makes one prefer one masseuse to another? What do I think of when the therapist is working their magic?
There was once I thought I’d try a little experiment. I was going to, as soon as I left the spa, write down all my thoughts. I made a conscious effort to remember them as I thought them. Premeditated, I know, too cognizant of the cognitive process, I know also, but I was going to try nonetheless.
Most of my thoughts turned into questions.
One vital realisation was palpable – when I’m in another country I am infinitely more relaxed, knowing that when I leave the spa I’m not off to the next meeting. Back home I’m usually between appointments, finding it difficult to keep my mind off the next one, as the dough needs some more molding. The difference being that the shaping of the human spirit can never be directed by just one source, like a massage.
One lies there quietly, in a direct antithesis of ostensible powerlessness, yet the power one experiences during and after, is immense. One uses words like rejuvenated and relaxed.
I finally decided that the question that preoccupied my mind most was: Is it not just perhaps the human being’s need to be touched that compels us to seek the aid of a body therapist later in life? A touch that is different from the touch we get from those we are attracted to.
After all, one of the first senses we experience when we are born is the sense of touch…a good slap on the (stretch mark free) backside before being handed to our mothers to be touched for life…