The dictionary defines masseuse as a woman who performs massage. A man who performs massage is known as a masseur. I perform massage and I hate being referred to as either. My stock response to being referred to as a masseuse is to politely answer the question being posed and throw in the term licensed massage therapist in place of the antiquated French term.
Man: How do you like being a masseuse?
Me: I love being a licensed massaged therapist!
Woman: Where did you study to become a masseuse?
Me: I studied to become a licensed massage therapist at the Swedish Institute in NYC.
I have not yet been as bold to go on a diatribe to explain why I hate the term masseuse/masseur and that I feel the term demeaning to my livelihood as a health care provider because I get it. I knew from the first day I enrolled in school to now as I write this that other LMTs like me have a steep hill to climb in our efforts to change social perception about what we do for a living. I get it! For instance prostitution is considered the world’s oldest profession and almost as long as prostitution has been demonized and illegal have prostitutes operated under the guise of performing massage or what is popularly referenced today as body rubs.
How do we as legitimate licensed/certified massage therapists change perceptions and ideas of our profession as one of a sketchy and questionable nature to one that is accepted as a legitimate health care provider or CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) therapy? The answer is surprisingly simple and merely requires common sense. There are many steps we can take to alter the public perception of us as a profession. We can be selective in how we advertise our practice. I use the word practice instead of business to first align ourselves with our other medical brethren. We can control where and in what conditions we work. We can educate the masses about the difference in a “body rub” that maybe feels good for a few minutes after you get off the table to a legitimate massage that affects true body changes and heals the body, mind and spirit.
When legitimate licensed massage therapists advertise our practice we are selective about what publications and online services we use. We avoid the colorful back pages of the Village Voice and other entertainment mags and Craigslist instead choosing to advertise our practice in trade publications like Massage Today or on-line listings provided by the American Massage Therapy Association or LegitMassage.com.
We also do not practice in places like parlors and we are choosy about the salons and spas we practice. First, anyone looking for a legitimate massage is not going to go to a parlor and hopefully before they go to a spa for massage services they make sure it is licensed by the state. In fact, here’s a quick trick (no pun intended) if anyone reading this wants their aches and pains to be relieved at a legitimate licensed location. Is the establishment licensed by the state or a local board of health? Then proceed with confidence that you are going to be treated by a well-trained licensed massage therapist (though you can always ask for credentials.) If the establishment, on the other hand, is regulated by the local vice squad or law department, then chances are very good that the place is not where you want to go for healing. If the spa, physical therapy office, chiropractor, acupuncturist or other CAM professional office requires a medical intake form before the initial session and operates during reasonable hours, you have most likely discovered a good health care provider who can ease your aches and pains and get you on a road to recovery.
A little common sense goes a long way as a consumer of massage. If the place seems seedy, it probably is. Is the place open past midnight? They are probably not worth your hard earned dollars. Are they not concerned with your comfort and draping? Walk out- do not pass go do not collect $200! I speak for myself and my colleagues and fellow licensed/certified massage therapists when I say that we take great pride in what we do and consider our clients safety, comfort and well-being a priority and only want to provide an effective healing massage. The only happy ending we are concerned with is one in which you walk out the door feeling relieved from your aches and pains and happily looking forward to the next healing session. We are legitimate and only want the best for you.
Choose Legit Massage!
Kip Yates, LMT was trained at the Swedish Institute in New York City and is New York State and Texas State licensed. He is owner and operator of Massage Refresh in New York City where he provides Swedish wellness and recuperative Deep Tissue massage that encompasses myofascial release and trigger point therapy. Kip lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three children and also practices at Physiofitness Physical Therapy in Soho.