French Massage: A lesson in modesty

Since having a baby my back has not been the same.  And since I don't like to suffer alone, I constantly tell my husband how much my back hurts, hoping he will feel so sorry for me and rub my back. 

Granted, if i was back in the US there would be no such conversation.  I would have simply booked a massage appointment and that would have been the end of it.  I used to {LOVE} getting massages and took advantage every chance I could!  It was a small luxury I could afford when I was still single.  Sadly, since moving to France, it is one luxury we just simply could not afford.  At least not on monthly basis.

Which is why last September for my birthday, Cornel knew {exactly}what to buy me; a gift certificate for a massage at a local spa.  And so on Saturday I headed out to get my massage that I had been looking foward to for months!

Now, I should say that I have gotten a massage at this place before so I knew what to expect, but there is really no way to prepare for this level of awkwardness.  Let me explain.

First the masseuse explained the process that is about to go down.  First she handed me a tiny little "slip", which was basically paper string thong.  The front part was white and bordered on see-through.

On the table there was one towel covering the massage table and another rolled up table on the end.  From what I understand in French, she told to take off my clothes put on the "slip" and get on the table.  She took off the rolled towel and left the room.  As I stood there in my "slip" and nothing else, I contemplated what to do.

From my prior experience I knew that I wasn't supposed to lay down under the towel already on the table.  That would just make the lady laugh at me again.  So I climbed on the table.  Talk about humiliating.  My head was towards the wall and my bare butt staring straight at the door.  Awesome.

The lady came back and then covered me up with the towel.  I'm not really sure why since five minutes into the massage the towel gets stripped off and so I'm just lying there with my ass in the air as this random stranger massages my back.  So not relaxing.

She did cover me up while she worked on the back of my legs.  Thank goodness for that.

Then came the "fun" part, the turning over.

Now, in a normal massage you would expect the girl to cover you discretely as you turn over.  Well, not here.  The towel was completely off as I awkwardly tried to turn over while not exposing all of my lady bits to the random stranger.

And there I laid.  Boobies in the air while she continued the massage.  At this point i began laughing at the absurdity of the entire situation.   I mean this lady was getting more action from me in an hour than my husband usually gets all week {ok, maybe not}.  She was DEFINITELY getting more action than anyone has without at least some wining and dining!

I guess in a country where topless beaches are everywhere and where you have to get naked in front of your doctor - this is nothing.  But for this obvious prudish American, it was all hysterically awkward.  I never considered myself a prude before, but after this...I definitely learned a lesson in modesty. Thank God I was at least given a "slip".

As for the massage, even though it was an uncomfortable process, my back felt amazing when we were all done.  So after it was all said and done, I would definitely go back and do it again.
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32 comments:

Natalie said...

Well, you know what they say....American was colonized by prudes. Everyone else staying in Europe :)

Elle The Heiress said...

I always make hints like that to my husband but he doesn't get it. If I flat out ask him to rub my back it's a measly few swipes across my back then he's done. Pathetic!

As for the massage? I think it's a tad embarrassing and awkward here, I cannot imagine your situation!

Michelle said...

Oh. my. goodness. I am laughing SO hard that I'm crying and my glasses are splattered with tears from my eyelashes. I even read it out loud to my husband and he was dying as well. Thanks SO much for a great laugh...even at your expense...I won't apologize for thinking it was hil-arious. :-) (And I would have been just as uncomfortable as you were, if not more!)

va_grown said...

Too funny! I would have been sure I missed something in translation!

Natalia Simmons said...

LOL that is funny! When I get waxed here, it is the same situation. Like i just lay there with my stuff all showing, I mean come on, just like a baby towel or something! They just don't care! At my son's school they have co-ed bathrooms for the 5 and 6 year olds!

Katy said...

Too funny Barbara!!!!

Barbara said...

@Thanks everyone! It was really funny after when I was trying to explain to the hubs about my massage. During - however - I was not so amused. Next time I'll look into getting some pasties!

senegaldaily said...

That's awesome. My husband and I just moved from Lyon, where I had a similar experience at a hammam once. :)

A friend of ours is an osteopath who does house calls. Not sure if she'd go all the way to CF, but I'd be happy to ask her if you're interested. She's worked a lot on new mothers (and infants too) and speaks some English. Very nice, not intimidating.

Katie Vyktoriah said...

My goodness, I don't think I'd be able to take the embarassment of that! I'm SO not body confident in the slightest, and I probably would have started crying! Lol.

That said, I'm really looking forward to a massage that Mark got for me for my birthday. He got me a certificate for a full body massage at a spa. Then he topped it up with a course of 5 chiropractic treatments! I was stunned! My back has been in agony for months during this pregnancy, and I was so grateful that he thought to help me sort it out. :)

I just hope mine doesn't involve a "slip" or a lack of covering!! ;)

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I am so glad I get my massages here.

Jen said...

Oh, that is so funny!! Glad your back feels better. :)

Karen said...

You are a braver soul than I being able to bare it all;)

Stopping by from Time Travel Tuesday. I stumbled and followed you! My post is http://practicalfrugality.blogspot.com/2011/06/why-book-reviews-are-important.html

By Word of Mouth Musings said...

LOL, this is why I never go!
But I do like that one where they scrub you with salt and hose you down ;)
So glad you joined Time Travel Tuesday - its rocking over in my 'house'

Cam | Bibs and Baubles said...

hilariously awkward! oh my goodness. I guess I'm a bit of a prude too. ha!

Growing Tween said...

Yes, things are so different: at Onsen in discreet Japan, we all walk around like a nudist colony between the hot springs...and don't even get me started on the Turkish baths with the nude ladies who scrub every bit of the top two layers of skin off so that you end up pink and glowing when you emerge. Love the blog. Enjoy your SITS day!

Heather said...

That's hilarious! I don't know what I would have done. Happy SITS day!

misssrobin said...

I haven't even been able to convince myself to get a massage in America, which I know is more discreet. A massage in France would probably kill me. More power to you.

Sheila Skillingstead said...

Naked in front of your doctor--no wonder french people are skinnier than Americans. I also love massages but sometimes feel very uncomfortable. I'm glad your back is better. I enjoyed the post. I will be back. Enjoy your SITS Day.

Organized Island said...

I know what you mean. We were at a beach in Spain once and many women were topless. Not my thing, but many areas of Europe are so not fazed by nudity. Glad you liked your massage anyway and Happy SITS Day!

another jennifer said...

Oh my! I don't think I'll be getting a massage in France any time soon. I would have laughed too!

Jamie H said...

From what I hear, people in France have no problems with nudity. You just confirmed that for me!

The Liebers said...

Why can't you just leave your undies on?? I think I'd be okay with that. I can't ask the hubs for a back rub, because he always imagines that I'm asking with a *wink.* Nope, sorry dear, I just want a backrub!!

Kat Biggie said...

I had a similar experience in Germany - but she actually massaged my butt and I thought I was going to DIE!!!! LOL too funny!

doseofreality said...

Crying with laughter! And the old I am so glad it was you and not me feeling! ;) Happy SITS day!

OneMommy said...

So, on the off chance that I ever get to France, no massage for me! :) I am definitely a prude. At least you could laugh about it!

Happy SITS day!

Bev said...

I had totally forgotten getting a massage once in France until you mentioned the paper thong. I don't think I wore it initially...I'll wear my own fabric underwear, thank you very much! But since I got a salt scrub before my massage I had to shower, in a little shower room with no door, and masseuse standing right outside. I am definitely too prudish for a French massage!

Happy SITS day!

Kayla @ TheEclecticElement said...

Congratulations on being featured as the SITSta today! :)

This post made me giggle and realize how DIFFERENT cultures can be; where it's okay to accept and love your body discretely and in public one place, it's definitely frowned upon in others.

Hey, at least France and the French are appreciative of their bodies! I wish the US had more of that mentality.

P.s. I LOVE massages, too!

agapewoman said...

I knew this was going to be funny, I actually can imagine the look on your face while you are laughing! Happy SITS Day!

Mommy's Always Write said...

Oh my! I have only ever had one massage, and it was a couples massage with my husband on a vacation to the Caribbean. It was definitely a bit awkward for me, despite the masseuse's best attempts to ease the tension. The massage was relaxing, but not relaxing enough for me to want to do it again...I just couldn't get past the "exposure." Congrats on being featured on SITS!

Jean said...

Brave woman! Happy SITS day, late ;)

Jean said...

Brave woman! Happy SITS day, late ;)

Corinna said...

I can totally relate...I have a great story about my visit to the ob/gyn in France. It was so embarrassing! Happy SITS day!

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