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Considering that the average American is exposed to approximately 3,000 advertisements every day, many of which promote an unrealistic image of idealized beauty, it’s no wonder that twenty-one percent of women ages 18 to 29 worry about weight consistently, according to a recent Gallup poll. Men aren’t spared from this worrying, though the number is lower, at 9 percent.

Even more troubling, one in four American kids have tried some form of dieting by the time they are seven years old, which can begin a lifelong disconnection to and a disdain of their bodies. In recent years, multiple studies have found positive effects of massage therapy on combating negative body image.

Benefits of Massage

Massage can help people accept their physical shape, ignore the unhealthy self-talk about their bodies, reduce the stress caused by images of unrealistic beauty ideals, and even motivate individuals to practice healthy eating habits.

For many who have an unhealthy relationship with their bodies, the thought of someone touching their bulges, scars, loose skin, thin frame, or other perceived imperfections, and getting a massage seems like the last thing in the world they would want to do. In fact, the experience of massage therapy can actually help increase self-confidence.

There is often a misconception by some who have a negative body image, that a massage therapist would only touch them because they are getting paid to do so, and that the therapist may even be repulsed, and therefore not present during the visit. The fact is quite the opposite. Massage therapists treat every body with respect and importance. Once clients understand this, they can become comfortable with their bodies, realizing that massage can make them feel good, and in turn, feel better about themselves.

Beyond the Table

It’s no secret that adults require human touch to thrive. Touch can help bond people together, have a powerful impact on emotions, create trust, and foster a sense of safety. For someone suffering from a distorted body image, regular visits to a massage therapist can provide much needed human contact. It is also a way to quiet the mind from negative thoughts, find pleasure in your body, and take pride in your body-imperfections and all.

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