Fun fact: I love Jim Gaffigan’s Hot Pockets schtick. I’ve watched all his stand-up, and I even liked his tv show. (Both seasons. Now you know.)
This morning Gaffigan was on CBS Sunday morning, with a funny little bit about massage. Except, it wasn’t very funny. It was just kind of….ignorant.
He dismissed massage as “decadent and weird.” And said a few other things, that were more ignorant than funny. It’s easy to get annoyed and pissy and blame him for being dumb. But he’s not dumb. He just doesn’t know.
Most people don’t know about massage. It feels weird to type those words, since I live and breathe massage, but it’s true.
A 2016 Survey reported that an average of 19 percent of adult Americans received at least one massage in the year prior. That’s it.
So 81% of the adult population is walking around with no idea how great they could feel. Or they think massage is just a superfluous luxury. Or sex work.
Gaffigan probably doesn’t know that massage is great for headaches, low back pain, and general crankiness.
Probably he never heard about one of my autistic clients who got cozier with touch and started holding his parents’ hands and hugging them more.
In fact, most people don’t realize that “50 percent of people have received a massage for one or more of the following reasons: soreness, stiffness or spasms, to relieve or manage stress, for prevention or to improve quality of life, injury recovery or rehabilitation, to keep fit or healthy/maintain wellness, pregnancy/prenatal, or to control headaches or migraines.”
Twelve years ago when I started in this profession, it was common to hear ”Oh, do you give happy endings?” whenever I said I was a massage therapist. Seriously, this happened while I was sitting next to my dad at a family BBQ. More than once. You pretty much have to have a sense of humor to handle crap like that on a regular basis and still love your job. Thankfully, it’s a rare occurrence nowadays.
I can appreciate a good comic bit. I crack plenty of jokes about massage. At the same time, I can’t help but be aggravated by the ignorance of Gaffigan’s schtick. It’s misleading and perpetuates a disdain for legitimate self-care that I find unacceptable.
Some people are straight up nervous about massage. They think it’s like the movies, and they’ll be all kinds of naked with just a little towel covering their bits ‘n pieces while a therapist beats the crap outta them. They don’t know the massage table is snuggly warm and they can stay as layered up as they want.
But you’re different. You’re a client of mine, and you know the truth. When you hear someone spout a misconception about massage, speak up and share your story.
Tell them how massage has helped you, how it’s part of your wellness plan, just like brushing your teeth or going to the gym. (And if you know someone who could use a massage, send them my way.)
Thanks for being my client, and thanks for being an advocate for massage.