Colorado Woman Told She’s “Too Fat” For A Massage; So Much For “Natural Healing”


People loooooove massages. It’s no wonder, considering they often help with acceptance, relaxation and letting go. That is, until you get bodysnarked when all you’re trying to do is get your bliss on via a body rub. That’s what happened to Laura Smith, a Colorado woman who says she was told she was “too fat” to receive a massage.

Laura, who had specifically scheduled a massage because she had run a half marathon in Arizona the day before, says this is what happened:

“She, the doctor comes out and she says, ‘I’m sorry but you’re too fat for our tables. You’re going to probably break a table and then you’d have to pay for it. And I was like, in shock; like, I’m hearing this?”

Penny Wells, the owner of Natural Healing Center (it looks like she is also a licensed Doctor of Oriental Medicine) declined to comment other than saying that she told Laura she was too “large,” not fat. It doesn’t look as if Penny Wells was the massage therapist scheduled to work on Laura, just the person who delivered the message. Apparently, there was some concern because a 165-lb person had recently broken a table at the facility. But also, it seems most massage tables are built to hold anywhere from 400 to 1000 lbs.

Tables aside, you know what really shouldn’t be a topic of discussion here? How much Laura actually weighs, a number the NY Daily News, and Laura herself all found to be of note in this story. Laura, who had recently lost of a good bit of weight (which made the situation “especially stinging,” in her words) said, “I mean, I’m not tiny, I know that, but I’m working on it.”

Listen, Laura—I’m sure you’re strong and amazing as you are: you just ran a half-marathon, after all! Regardless of your weight or your size, as a paying customer and as a human being you had a right to better, more conscientious treatment from Natural Healing Center. Frankly, I find it shocking that a center known for its “nontraditional” approach to health and bodywork would be so blunt and rude in their dealings with a client. All people, regardless of size (or weight or age or health condition or gender…you get the idea) have the right to respectful, sensitive treatment—all the time, including when they’re about to plunk down a minimum of $70 for a one hour treatment.

If Penny Wells truly had concerns about the ability of the equipment to hold Laura’s body, I feel pretty damn positive there was a more tactful (not to mention kind) way of letting her know that this facility might not be a good fit for her needs. Calling her “fat” or “large” and telling her she would probably break something is both bad business and bad karma.


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    • Maggie

      Yeah, that’s bullshit. I work at a health clinic where we offer massage therapy, and our tables are guaranteed to hold up to 1000 lbs. If they had proper equipment, there is no way the woman in this story could have broken a table, and if she did it would be the fault of the clinic for using crappy equipment.

    • Lilac

      Maybe this was some cruddy hole in the wall not using proper tables place. But with that said most tables are only rated for 350 pounds. Even the table in my doctors office says its only rated for 300 pounds. I wouldn’t call her fat but being upset because someone called her large is silly. She looked very tall i.e. large.

      • Kat

        i think she was over 6″ tall. I had a massage scheduled today, only had one in my life, but I don’t want to be told that, so I cancelled it.

    • Phil Surgent

      My portable table is static weight rated to 450 and the tables I use at the my employer are rated to around 1000. But that is beside the point. If you can’t use the table – use the chair – or use the mat – or bring a waiting room chair into the room. Bottom line is that with very few exceptions, there is always something that can be done. Penny Wells should be shamed out of the field.