In Western countries, clients often don’t realize that Traditional Thai Massage is given fully dressed.
As a Thai Massage therapist it’s something you can forget easily, but it’s important to remember and to make clients aware of, because it could just mean losing or gaining a new customer. Some clients just won’t fancy getting naked in front of a stranger, and others just really expect a full-body-touch nude oil massage.
So it’s good to mention it in your flyer, write it on your website and try not to forget to tell about it in your massage-explanation-story. But even then it’s not always clear for potential clients. I suppose it’s just the ingrained Western idea of a massage being a naked or almost naked session.
To make my case — I remember a session where I asked the lady (she was 83 years old by the way) to get changed for the massage and after a few minutes she came back in the room… completely undressed! Well, I had to tell her to please get dressed again, but instead of getting a blush or something, she just replied: “But this is supposed to be a massage isn’t it!?”
Well yeah, it is. Traditional Thai Massage is a (sort of) massage. But it’s a clothed massage treatment. In our case it means that both client and practitioner wear clothes during a session.
Now first of all we don’t use oils. So no need for the client to get undressed. And secondly, it’s essential that the client wears clothes (preferably cotton) for practitioners to get a firm grip.
We like cotton because it doesn’t slide on the skin and it takes up sweat, which again prevents sliding and gliding. Cotton also provides a cooling effect, it channels heat away from the body which during a session is a practical advantage for both practitioner and client.
The third reason would be to prevent so-called skin burn. Skin on skin (without oil) can easily cause an unpleasant burning sensation for the client.
And the last, surely not the most unimportant reason, would be a traditional, cultural one. In Asia, it’s generally assumed that it’s the appropriate thing not to show too much skin — to cover up as much as possible to keep up the ethics straight, so to say.
Now, as we’re supposed to be dressed up properly for a Thai Massage session there is a final key requirement the clothing should meet with: it should be loose-fitting for both parties.
Because the practitioner needs to move in a smooth, catlike style around the client and our client needs to “suffer” as comfortably as possible.