My entire life, I was always a bit of a stick, tall and thin. I was a dancer and Pilates devotee. I had some body image issues, as I imagined most young women did. But in general, I felt strong and comfortable in my skin. Then I had a child.
It wasn’t so much that my pregnancy weight never fell off. I didn’t gain any more than 30 pounds while carrying my daughter. The problem was that in the years after I had my little girl, my lifestyle changed. I had less time for working out. I got a nice, stable desk job that included sitting in an office chair for eight hours a day. I snacked on too many Goldfish crackers. My stick-thin figure got decidedly more round. It went past round, to a place where I was no longer comfortable or happy with my appearance.
Before I gained weight, spa treatments and full-body massages were one my favorite personal treats. Every couple of months, I would have a sea salt scrub or a mud bath. I would get a massage. It was my way to relax and pamper myself, just for a bit.
After I gained weight, I stopped hitting the spa. I was uncomfortable with the idea of someone rubbing their hands all over my swollen body. I honestly think there was a time when I told myself, “Does pretty skin really matter when I don’t want anyone to see my skin?” My insecurity and unhappiness with my weight convinced me that pampering just wasn’t necessary.
For the first few years of my daughter’s life, I completely avoided the spa. I had gift cards for treatments piling up in my purse, and I made excuses about being too busy to go. I kept my pudgy thighs and soft belly to myself.
Then, this fall, I finally decided that I was done avoiding my massages. More than that, I was done ignoring my body because I was a bit unhappy with its size. Whether I ever lost all the weight I had gained or not, I wanted to be a happy and healthy person. I wanted to appreciate the body I had, and even pamper it every once in a while.
In September, I made me first appointment for a massage in over five years. I made it with a wonderful man named Joe, who came highly recommended by my brother-in-law. I was nervous as I walked in to the spa and pulled on a fluffy robe. I was self-conscious when I had to flip myself over on the table, afraid of what unappealing view my masseuse might get. It wasn’t the best massage I ever got, mostly because I spent the majority of it slightly uncomfortable and a little insecure.
But I didn’t give up after that first treatment. I scheduled my next appointment. I went back just six weeks later. That second time, it was easier and more comfortable. I didn’t think nearly as much about just how much of my body the towel covered. I scheduled another appointment.
After a few massages, I admitted to Joe that I was slightly self-conscious, having gained weight since becoming a mom. He immediately attempted to make me feel more comfortable, and mentioned gaining more than his wife when she was carrying their twins. He encouraged me not to let my anxiety get in the way. He was kind and polite.
As time has gone on, I’ve made changes in my lifestyle to help address the weight problems that still worry me. I’ve headed back to the gym. I’ve been more conscious in my eating choices. But I’ve also begun to realize that I can love and accept my body, no matter what size it is. I can feel confident and even pampered, whether I’m wearing a size four or a size ten.
The spa might seem like an odd place to go for body acceptance, but it worked for me. It helped me see that a little pampering doesn’t have a size limit. And that at any size, I deserved to be comfortable and content.