Redditor throwawayaccountxyzq is not a licensed massage therapist but accepts donations for giving massages to her friends.
But when she refused to massage someone based on an inconvenient criterion, she was accused of discrimination and sought the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for their input.
The Original Poster (OP) asked:
“AITA for refusing to massage bigger people?”
The OP dove right in and wrote:
“Hi Reddit. I’ll cut straight to the point. On my free time, I go to friends / family’s home and massage them.”
“I am not at all a professional massage therapist, I just really enjoy doing it and I’ve been told that I’m pretty good at it.”
“It’s not an official thing either, it started off as a joke cause my friend was super sore, I came over and massaged her and she gave me $10. Then word of mouth, and I started massaging friends, I don’t ask for money, they just donate whatever they please.”
“However lately I have gotten some hate for refusing to massage my bigger friend. I have nothing against him or bigger people, I however know my physical limits and I know it would be difficult to give him a proper massage because of who I am, I’m a shorter female at (4’9 and 110 lbs) and my friend was a really big guy weight wise, 300lbs+.”
“I told him that i don’t think I have enough strength to massage him properly, and that this was just something I did for fun and sometimes free cause I love my friends.”
“He went on social media to say I was fat shaming him and I was fat phobic, saying real massage therapist businesses wouldn’t turn people away.”
In an update to her post, the OP gave more details of her friend and emphasized the fact that she was not a professional.
“I wanted to talk to him and see if we could talk properly but it looks like he blocked me anyway. He was a friend of a family member.”
“I want to reiterate again, I DO THIS FOR FUN! I like massaging people because it’s calming. I NEVER demand payment. I never say, ‘Pay me XX for this.’”
“The only people I’ve massaged were close friends or family, all of which I did for a fun or favors. For all of those spitting legal advice, that’s not what I came here for. Yes I am not a legal licensed therapist. I’m literally just a girl who likes to massage friends. That is all.”
Anonymous strangers on the internet were asked if and where guilt belongs by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Most Redditors believed the OP was unfairly criticized by her friend.
“NTA. Who you choose to massage is your choice.”
“You’re not a professional, so you’re not bound by any rules a ‘real massage therapist businesses’ would have.”
“If he wants a message, he can go to one of those professional establishments.” – CulturedPhilistine
“NTA. You aren’t a real massage therapist so his argument is pretty moot.”
“As for declining him, there are plenty of massage therapists that would decline him because his size makes it difficult to give an effective massage, especially if the therapist is on the petite side.”
“If you own your own table, you could lower it and look into using your forearms and elbows as a way to get effective depth and pressure, that is what my wife has done on occasion (she is a licensed massage therapist)” – MonkeyWrench
A professional weighed in with their insight.
“As a massage therapist, we absolutely do refuse service to people we don’t think we can accommodate.”
“We do the best we can (because nobody wants to hurt a client’s feelings and we also like to get paid for our time) but there have been some instances where one of our smaller staff therapists has asked another staff member if they could trade because they wouldn’t be able to do what the client wanted.”
“We’ve always cleared this type of trade with the client beforehand, and if the client insists on keeping the one staff member, we’ll let them know that the service may not be exactly what they were expecting.”
“If another staff member can’t take the client, we give an option- reschedule with someone who specializes in the type of massage you need, or repeat the ‘the service you booked with this staff member may not be what you’re looking for’ line.”
“But if you enjoy doing massage, it can be a lucrative career or side hustle. Consider most in-home massages where I live are over $100/hr, and remember that your time & learned skills are worth money.” – stephiroth7
“Not to mention they’re hardly even ‘friends.’ The guy’s a friend of a family member, and OP already said she only massages people she’s close to. As a non-professional masseuse, I’d understand why OP would feel uncomfortable touching a barely-an-acquaintance’s body.”
“Also, OP is freaking tiny. How did the guy expect OP to ‘give good service’ anyway. I’m only 4’10” myself, and I also have a hard time applying decent pressure, especially if the muscle I’m aiming for is under a layer of fat.”
“It was pretty decent of OP to phrase herself as gracefully as she did. NTA.” – bonkerred
In response to the friend accusing the OP of being “fat phobic” and saying that real massage therapist businesses wouldn’t turn people away, this Redditor commented:
“No you aren’t & yes they do turn people away if the situation calls for it.”
“Someone I know used to work as a receptionist at a massage place. They actually had to once reschedule a woman’s massage when she came in the first time.”
“She was well over 200 pounds & the only person who was strong enough to provide the massage she wanted was on vacation.” – CelticFire28
“Even if OP was charging, I don’t see the reason why they’d be the a**hole if they didn’t take his business.”
“Businesses have a right to choose who they serve. If I owned a comfortable business I would decline all a**holes.” – pleasedropSSR
A person who is overweight offered her perspective on the issue.
“Fat lady here, this is why I seek out strong male massage therapists on the rare occasions when I can afford a massage.”
“I like deep tissue and there’s a lot of me to massage. Whoever works on me needs plenty of upper arm strength. I wouldn’t be offended if a therapist your size told me she couldn’t accommodate me, I would agree and ask to be rescheduled with someone who can accommodate me.”
“That’s the reality of being obese. It makes a lot of things more difficult, and refusing to acknowledge that fact will only make it worse.” – tourmaline82
“Big girl here. NTA, not even a little bit. Your friend is a little (actually a lot) sensitive.”
“I have been massaged before and I understand I take longer to massage. That’s extra effort. This also probably means not everyone can accommodate. Oh well. Sh*t happens.”
“I’m working on losing weight and soon it won’t be an issue. Feel free to read this to anyone who thinks you’re wrong.” – IndicaRain
However, there were a handful of critics slamming her for being untrained and offering her casual services.
“I’m a massage therapist. YTA for doing amateur massages on people.”
“Therapists have enough problems with getting proper respect and educating clients on safe massage without untrained people further adding to that problem.”
“You need to have extensive knowledge in kinesiology, anatomy, and pathology to safely do ANY kind of massage. There’s a f’k ton more to massage than something feeling good to someone FFS.”
“Go to school and do this for real before you end up hurting someone or acerbating a musculoskeletal issue someone has.” – drowninginmoonlight
“You might be TA for giving massages when you are not trained. Depending on what you are doing exactly it could be really dangerous.”
“Some light massage might be fine but you don’t have the knowledge to know what not to do or when to stop. You could hurt someone.” – LindseyBrielle
“I mean, YTA for doing unlicensed massage. If you were trained, you’d learn how to massage all types of people. There’s strength and endurance techniques you learn.”
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a hobby. I could pierce people as a hobby, I’d still be doing something illegal. Black market massages could damage someone.” – Jovet_Hunter
And yet the above comments were challenged by this Redditor.
“But this is like saying YTA for cooking food for a friend without having a certificate in food handling.”
“OP isn’t obliged to massage anyone. Even professional massage therapists can run into limits of their physical strength, and that doesn’t make them AH.” – athiepiggy
A majority of Redditors continued declaring NTA, and some suggested for the OP to give a heartfelt apology and to recommend a licensed therapist as immediate options to alleviate the tension.