It’s your first massage therapy session! How exciting! It can be pretty nerve-wracking, too. Probably you don’t know this massage therapist very well. And now they’re asking you to undress to the level of your comfort! WHAT IF YOU ARE NOT VERY COMFORTABLE BEING UNDRESSED.
Well, the first good news is that the therapist is going to leave the room to let you undress in private. Legit RMTs are not interested in seeing you between the states of clothed and snuggled comfortably between the sheets of the massage table.
Second, ‘to the level of your comfort’ is exactly that. The only caveat is that if you choose to wear no shirt but keep the bra on, that bra really is best coming off. Not because RMTs are creepy and weird, but because we don’t want to get oil or lotion on your nice underthings, nor do we want to risk snapping the straps or otherwise wrecking your clothes.
So let’s talk underwear for a second, whether it be thongs, panties, briefs, boxers or those stretchy mid-thigh-length things that rugby players wear. Is it best to keep them on or take them off?
IT DON’T MATTER NONE
Really! Either there’s enough slackness in the material that the RMT will casually tuck the top sheet into the underthing and hike it up a little so they can get to that skin underneath, or they can just keep the sheet over top of the underthing and work through both sets of fabrics.
“Well then why not do the entire massage like that?” you ask.
You can. It’s a thing you can do. Because it’s your massage and you are in control of what gets done to your body.
But going back to the why, there’s a couple of reasons. Most massage techniques involves a lot of wringing the muscles and sliding along the muscles and stretching the muscles. Fabric gets in the way of how much wringing and sliding and stretching can be done. The movements will be a lot shorter because the collar of your shirt is pulling against your neck, because jeans aren’t terribly stretchy, because we don’t want to ruin your clothes by stretching them out or wrinkling them terribly. Also you’ll be a sweaty mess at the end and have to go home like that.
(“But Thai massage is done through the clothes!”
So is craniosacral therapy. I’m talking about Swedish massage. They all have different techniques suited to what’s being worn. Calm yo’self.)
Back to underwear’s special status. Many of the massage techniques used on the glutes function equally well clothes or unclothed. Unless you have a specific problem in your glute that you want worked on, the RMT’s hands and elbows can remain fairly static on the glute muscles and still do a decent job of working out the kinks. Underwear fabric tends to be stretchy enough that it’s not going to interfere with the range of motion the RMT wants to get.
Also, some people just don’t want their butt skin being touched or don’t like the thought of their genitals being ‘out there’ (please note: they will never be Out There. Genital massage is not a thing that gets done. Ever).
“Won’t the therapist be weirded out if I’m not wearing underwear, though?”
Nope! We don’t care. Your sensitive bits are always covered up anyway (‘sensitive’ being the genital area, the gluteal cleft [or ‘buttcrack’] and nipples [except during breast massage, which needs special and specific consent beforehand, and in any case the nipples and areolae aren’t touched]), so it’s not like we’re missing out.
Let’s recap: in a Swedish massage (which is the standard massage, using oils or lotions), you’ll be expected to undress. Bras need to come off. Underwear is optional.
So now the RMT is out of the room and you’re feeling a breeze. There’s a massage table with sheets and a blanket and pillows and some sort of doughnut-thing at one end. AW SHIT NOW WHAT?
Get yourself between the sheets! That doughnut-thing is for your head when you’re lying on your stomach. Put your face in it. The pillow should be under the bend at your ankles. If there’s another pillow for your stomach, it should… I dunno, be somewhere that feels all right? I hate using stomach pillows, but whatever. The RMT is knocking on the door. You’re ready to be massaged!
OR ARE YOU?
Remember when I said to get between the sheets? Remember when I said your sensitive bits are always covered up? Now is not the time to play Helpful Hector with your RMT and leave your butt hanging out for them to gaze upon when they return. They will not thank you. Pull those sheets up and let the RMT uncover what they need to work on. Butt cracks should remain a mystery.
So the RMT has finished working on the first side. It’s time to get turned over and continue this sometimes baffling ballet of How Much Naked Is Naked?
Well, the RMT is going to make sure the sheets are up to your neck and down past your toes and there’s a lovely foot or so of cloth on either width-wise. They’re going to hold onto the sheets while you execute a graceful turn onto your back. You’ll need to scootch down the table so that pillow is now under your knees and your head is out of that doughnut-thing. What comes next?
Next is you leave that sheet where it is. You can move your arms to be out of the sheets if you’re feeling a bit warm, or you can adjust the top so it’s not choking you, but don’t give the RMT an eyeful of your rippling chest and certainly don’t shove the sheets down to your waist. Let your nipples be as unto your butt crack.
“But I’m constipated and need my abdomen worked on and the RMT said we’d be doing abdominal massage and I’m too hot and I want to be helpful!”
And all that will be noted in your file! But if you’re too hot we can just remove the blanket or uncover your feet or put a cool damp towel on your forehead. When the RMT needs to work on the stomach region, they’ll put a towel over your chest and in a dazzling display of magician-like talent slip the sheets out from under it and leave your nipples in the dark. It doesn’t matter if they’re man-nipples. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had a mastectomy and there are no nipples left. Is it the region where nipples are traditionally viewed? Then it stays covered. Those are the rules the RMT governing college has laid out and your whinging is not worth our career.
“BUT I WANT TO BE HELPFUL!”
to be helped
when it’s not asked for.
It should go without saying at this point, but wait for the RMT to leave the room at the end of the treatment before you hop off the table.
Let’s recap! How naked can you get? AS NAKED AS YOU WANT! Just as long as your nakedness stays between the sheets.