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It's a Table, Not a Bed

Written By: Marty Morales

Picture of a massage Table in a studio

Ok, this is for everyone: Massage therapy students, bodyworkers, clients, and everyone who chooses to call a massage table a “massage bed.” If you want to symbolically run nails over the chalkboard of the massage and bodywork community then go ahead and refer to our most popular and cherished work equipment by the label of, “bed”. But just because you’re hearing this from me doesn't mean you should follow suit. Instead, let me attempt to convince you as to why you should call it a Table and not a Bed.

It’s equipment used for business

Massage therapists and bodyworkers use the table to apply their trade. They have clients get on the table, receive a therapeutic service, and then off they go. Clients are not paying to get on the table, cuddle up with their blankie and then go to sleep. Personally, If I was selling sleep then I would call it a bed. Since I’m selling manual therapy, I call it a table and see it as my Work Table, not my ‘work bed’.

If it was a bed, it’d be a pretty crummy bed

There’s no mattress, it’s pretty high up, it’s pretty narrow, and it’s a single person use. Not the best bed out there huh?

Calling it a ‘bed’ gives it a different connotation/energy

Us bodyworkers in the industry have tirelessly worked for decades to separate ourselves from the sex work and even more so, the sex trafficking industry (yes, they’re different). Calling it a bed tends to bring in that sex work or sex trafficking industry energy. For those of us who solely offer manual therapy services, we tend to not want to be lumped into other industries we don’t want to be a part of. I think this is one of the most important reasons this seemingly semantic word choice matters.

To drive my point home, I’ll give you another example. If you get taken by paramedics to a hospital, they take you in a gurney, not a paramedic bed. That sounds kind of silly, doesn’t it? But what do I know about working in a hospital? Hospital cots are still sometimes referred to as hospital beds.

What I do know are the common misperceptions around Massage Therapy and its continued conflation with sex work and sex trafficking. So, when you hear a client, student, or peer call it a ‘bed’, just gently repeat, ‘table’. I work at a table, clients receive work on a table, and at the end of the day, we sometimes fold up the table and put it away. Thanks for reading!


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