The Place With No Name


The Library With No Name - Total Body Massage
please read the disclaimer on the library's main page, and the fine print, before continuing.



The decision to be undressed during your massage is up to you.  While it is strongly recommended, it is not necessary for you to undress completely.  Any clothing will, however, interfere with the natural flow of the massage, preclude the use of certain techniques, and prevent a true and complete TBM.  Your body is your whole body – and an important part of your whole Self. Your nude body is you in your most basic state.  A nude body is not a body lacking something (that is, clothing). Rather, a clothed person is a whole and complete naked body, plus clothes.  Remember:  In the end, the decision to be undressed during your massage is up to you.  This page will provide you with more information to help you decide – not make the decision for you.  If you have any concerns, you should discuss these with your massage therapist BEFORE the massage begins.


Other forms of massage that do not require undress are also available.  JKD acupressure (acupressure therapy) and Healing Touch are two of these that allow you to remain dressed.  It may be beneficial to work slowly until you feel safe and comfortable with your massage therapist before moving to TBM if you have never received massage before.

People wear clothing for many reasons: protection against the elements, to provide for a social sense of decency and modesty, and as a fashion statement.  You should ask yourself your reasons for wearing clothing, and then weigh the need for clothing versus the benefits received from massage.  Dr. Robert Henley Woody writes, "fear of revealing one's body is a defense. To keep clothing on at all times when it is unnecessary for social protocol or physical comfort is to armor oneself in a manner that will block new behaviors that could introduce more healthful and rewarding alternatives; and promote psychological growth." [i]


Most people who are concerned about being nude – even in a clinical setting – are concerned about being embarrassed or ashamed about their bodies.  The best way to overcome this kind of shyness is to examine yourself in a mirror while nude and note the positive aspects of your body.  The modern media is full of ‘perfect’ people that we all tend to measure ourselves against.  This is unrealistic however, and if you pay attention to the vast majority of people, everyone has a unique physique and everyone is uniquely beautiful.

The sociological pressure of modern America has caused most of us to have a strong sense of modesty.  Our parents taught us that being nude was somehow naughty and wrong without providing us with a rational basis for why.  This idea is a modern concept.  Few people realize that swimsuits, as we know them today, are a relatively recent concept. The idea of wearing special clothing to swim in is barely a century old. 

The desire for clothing in the modern era is almost entirely psychological.  “Many of today’s styles [of clothing] are deliberately designed to dress our psyche rather than to conceal our bodies.  … [T]he very thought of being naked, except in our most intimate moments, so embarrasses most of us that we still call on our lawmakers to protect us from viewing others in such a state.  We seem to exhibit a phobia about nakedness that was not present in earlier civilizations – a phobia that serves to keep us from accepting ourselves as we really are.  We behave as if only a clothed person is a complete person.  A naked person minus his clothes is lacking some important part of himself.  Yet, we are all aware that human babies start life completely naked.  If a naked child is complete and perfect, then regardless of the child’s sex, education, wealth, race, religion, or cultural inheritance, that child will remain naked for the rest of its life.  Those items of clothing or adornment which he or she decides are proper or fit to wear in order to adapt to a socially and/or sexually acceptable norm are added – extra – covering the real person who exists inside them… [In] this technological age of central heating and air conditioning we still continue to wear clothes, even on the most informal occasions when it would be more comfortable and far easier for us to go naked.  We are, in fact, addicted to clothing.” [ii]  Massage is one such time when clothing is neither comfortable nor convenient.

Some people associate nudity with sex, and therefore worry that nudity may be sinful or immodest.  In the setting of a massage however, the purpose of being nude is far from being sexual.  Pope John Paul II agrees that nudity, in and of itself, is not sinful. "The human body in itself always has its own inalienable human dignity," he says. It is only obscene when it is reduced to "an object of 'enjoyment,' meant for the gratification of concupiscence itself." [iii] "Sexual modesty cannot then, in any simple way, be identified with the use of clothing, nor shamelessness with the absence of clothing and total or partial nakedness…  Immodesty is present only when nakedness plays a negative role with regard to the value of the person, when its aim is to arouse concupiscence, as a result of which the person is put in the position of an object for enjoyment…  There are certain objective situations in which even total nudity of the body is not immodest." [iv]  Massage plays a positive role with regard to the value of the person, and recognizes innate human dignity.

The association with nudity and sin is a modern development. Old Testament ceremonial washings, including baptism, were performed in the nude.  [v] Christ, too, was probably baptized naked as depicted in numerous early works of art.  [vi] For the first several centuries of Christianity, it was the custom to baptize men, women, and children together nude. This ritual played a very significant role in the early church. The accounts are numerous and detailed.  [vii]


Many people, even after understanding the issue, are not entirely comfortable being completely nude with a new massage therapist.  If you want to be nude during your massage, but aren’t entirely comfortable doing so, then you should start from where you are comfortable until you have built up trust in your massage therapist.  If you are not comfortable being nude – and never will be – then you should discuss this with your massage therapist.  Some people like to start with just an upper-body back massage for a few sessions until they feel comfortable with their massage therapist.  This allows them to leave their lower-body garments in place so that they have a feeling of security.  They may then decide to remove more clothing to receive a more thorough massage and allow the massage therapist to work the entire back of their body.  Eventually, after ten or more sessions, they may decide to receive TBM.

Even if you are comfortable with your massage therapist, and comfortable being nude, you will not progress to TBM right away.  You will receive two or three sessions of incomplete TBM.  This allows you to get used to your massage therapist – and for your massage therapist to learn about you, your body, and your needs.  Proceeding too quickly can be a shock to your system physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Our recommendation from personal experience is to receive a full and complete TBM, which requires total nudity.  We feel that after you have received one, you will wonder why you were hesitant in the beginning.  Our recommendation aside, you have many options and choices, and a massage with your clothes on is better than no massage at all.

You may discuss your feelings and beliefs with your therapist, and discuss various viewpoints, but - in the end - the decision to be nude or not is up to you.  Your views and beliefs will be respected, and if you have any special concerns or desire any accommodation, you should discuss these with your massage therapist.  If you are still not comfortable, you may want to seek a same sex massage therapist, or alternative forms of therapy.


You are always free to ask your massage therapist any questions, or to discuss any concerns – no matter how small you think they may be.  There are also other pamphlets, such as this one, to help answer questions you may have.

[i]. Woody, Robert Henley. The Use of Massage in Facilitating Holistic Health: Physical and Mental Effects. Springfield, Ill.: Thomas, 1980.  Woody 15-16.

[ii] Langner, Lawrence.  The Importance of Wearing Clothes.  Los Angeles, CA: Elysium 1991.  346

[iii]. "Spirituality." Clothed with the Sun 1.3 (1981): 81-82.

[iv]. John Paul II 176, 190, 191.

[v]. Miles, Margaret R. Carnal Knowing: Female Nakedness and Religious Meaning in the Christian West. Boston: Beacon, 1989. pp 34.

[vi]. The famous Ravenna mosaic, for instance, clearly depicts Christ being baptized nude.  See also Giovanni di Paoloi's 15th century painting "The Baptism of Christ."

[vii]. An extensive list of sources may be found in Jonathan Smith 220, footnote 12.  See also pp. 222-24, 227, 235-37; Miles, chapter 1, esp. pp. 33-34; Cunningham 49-50; Danielou 38-39; Ward, "Why Must Public Nudity" 97; B. Easton 46; and Mackey 42. 




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