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Posted by on Feb 20, 2013 in At TMV | 6 comments

Woman Denied Massage Because Of Her Weight

This is one of those stories that turns out to not be quite what you think it would be.

A woman goes to a spa and wants to get a massage but she is turned down because the owner says she is too fat and could break the table. She gets upset and there is tons of media coverage.

The reasonable conclusion most of us would reach is that the woman must have weighed hundreds of pounds and the owner, while perhaps not the most sensitive person around, had reasonable concerns about customer safety and lawsuits.

Well the woman in question is 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 250 lbs.

Certainly large for a woman but hardly excessively fat. Indeed many male customers would likely weigh in that range. In addition she is an athlete who just ran a half marathon the day before the incident.

It leads one to wonder if this guy has balsa wood tables at his spa.

I am not one to favor lawsuits every time someones feelings are hurt but this is one case where it might be justified.

Either way the guy is going to get a ton of bad press (and rightly so).

Maybe he can invest in a big boy table or two.


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  • rudi

    This is a small bare bones spa, so it isn’t a typical resort spa. The website is swamped because of this story. But it is strange that a male body builder was never turned away.
    Bodybuilder OK
    The owner owes an apology, but a lawsuit may kill the spa…

  • ordinarysparrow

    I wonder if weightism is similar to internalized homophobia where the weight bias or stigma is projected on to others that are seen as obese?

    Another form of culturally sanctioned prejudice.

  • PATRICK EDABURN, Assistant Editor

    I do think this is one of those circumstances that could be difficult to evaluate.

    Let’s assume the person in question was seriously overweight, maybe 400-500 lbs.

    The owner then would, I think, have a legitimate concern about the possibility of injury to either the customer or the employee and the resulting legal liabilities they would face.

    So I wouldn’t say some reasonable weight limits are out of line but this just strikes me as ridiculous

  • adelinesdad

    On one hand, businesses should be allowed to set reasonable limits. On the rare occasion that I go out to dinner with my wife who has food allergies and sensitivities, we don’t show up somewhere and demand to be accommodated. We choose carefully and plan ahead. Most of us can think of ways that life isn’t quite fair, in smaller ways or much bigger, and for the most part it’s not up to everyone else to make life fair for us.

    On the other hand, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to suppose that any spa should be able to accommodate a woman of her size. Or else they really need to think about upgrading their equipment, which leads me to…

    On the “other other” hand, as I mentioned before on several occasions I’m disturbed by the trend of creating public controversy from private interactions. None of us where there. We don’t know what was really said and why. The owner said they had just broken another table. Maybe they only had one left and it was a smaller, older one? Not likely, but possible. My point is, I’m disturbed by the tendency to rush to judge, especially when that is magnified to a viral degree. For someone who’s livelihood depends on her reputation, the court of public opinion can be as harsh as any legal system, and much less reasonable and measured. We should use care when wielding that weapon.

    Now this business owner has to deal with the consequences whether they were warranted or not. Just because we don’t like how a business treated us doesn’t give us the right to ruin it. Did the woman tell the business owner of her intention of going public with this story and give her a chance to make it right and possibly clear up any misunderstandings?

    I’m not saying the business owner didn’t act stupidly. It sounds like she probably did. But not every stupid act deserves viral public scrutiny. And retaliation is not always the proper response to offense.

  • StockBoyLA

    I can’t imagine a business which survives on paying customers would turn away a paying customer unless they had good reason. Generally I think when a business has a concern about a potential client then that business has the right to turn away that client.

    I agree with adelinesdad that we weren’t there and should not rush to judgement.

    I don’t know who’s “right” and who’s “wrong”…. and I’m not even sure there is a “right” or “wrong” here. Simply different opinions. As such I’m not taking sides.

  • KP

    StockBoyLA, you make so much sense. Our litigious society has changed the way I view patients. As uncomfortable as it is, I have to treat more defensively.

    However, I have never, in over thirty years, turned a patient away (male or female) because they were very large. NFL players, NBA players, Olympic athletes as well as men and women who are not athletic. As someone said earlier, get tables that stand up. You could park a truck on my tables and they would not break.

    Absent having the tables that can hold up, have someone avaialble you can refer to. Never send a patient away that you cannot treat without offering an appropriate referral.

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