“Your breasts are almost non-existent”

This is part 2 of 2 of a conversation with L, a woman in her mid-twenties working at a massage parlor. Click here for part 1 (“Can pregnant women have massages?”). This post is about women’s issues and might not be to everyone’s taste – I’ve warned you.

Illustration by Ruth Silbermayr-Song

Illustration by Ruth Silbermayr-Song

The whole-body massage includes back, arms, legs, stomach and breasts. When L is about to start with the breast massage, she says:
“Your breasts are almost non-existent.”

Huh. She’s so blunt I’m wondering if I just heard correctly. Still, I don’t feel offended, I’ve already gotten used to this kind of bluntness. Now, if you wonder what a breast massage is like, be prepared that it might hurt.

She then tells me:
“Your breasts are very healthy.”
I: “Do you know that by just looking at them?”
She: “I do. Your nipples are pink. If they are dark it means your breasts aren’t that healthy. If they are pink, it means they are very healthy.”
I: “I see.”

She starts with the massage and asks:
“How many hours a day do you wear a bra? Less than 8?”
I: “Longer than 8 hours.”
She: “It’s best to wear a bra less than 8 hours a day. Breasts and nipples need to breathe too, just like your nose.”

The massage hurts a lot. I tell her.
She: “There’s some stagnation, that’s why it hurts.”
I: “Where does the stagnation come from? Just from wearing a bra?”
She: “Yes, exactly.”

After a while, I ask her:
“Are you able to feel if someone has a breast tumor?”
She: “I am. But don’t worry, you’re fine.”

Have you ever had a similar conversation? I’d love to read your stories.

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29 thoughts on ““Your breasts are almost non-existent”

    • I was quite surprised the first time I had a whole body massage which included the chest area. I prefer back massages too, especially since the whole body massage often includes the stomach and that one is particularly uncomfortable, imo.


      • Why surprise? Your body perhaps is divided in parts? any good and other not good for massage? The body is all Whole sensible and a good massage must be complete my dear


        • Well, surprised because not every so-called whole body massage does include this area. Not for females, anyways. Not saying including the chest area is a bad thing, but some people don’t like being touched by a stranger in that area.


    • Thanks. They are, they are often advertised for making your breasts look fuller and stuff like that (if it’s only a massage of your breast area). I think that breast massage is more common in massage parlours that cater to women in particular. I’ve only ever had it as part of the full body massage.


  1. “She: “I do. Your nipples are pink. If they are dark it means your breasts aren’t that healthy. If they are pink, it means they are very healthy.””

    Sorry but that is quack theory. No I’m not a woman, but no wonder China isn’t seen as advanced with such backwards – prejudiced even – thinking. It’s along the lines of “white skin is better, because it LOOKS better”.

    The problem is that many – most people believe this, especially for an ignorant uneducated populace – and that is very damaging for a community.


    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Jeff (and no, you don’t have to be a woman to comment on this one). I don’t know what kind of knowledge she based her comment on, so can’t really say if this is something they learn as massage therapists or just her personal opinion. Personally, I’ve never thought about one colour being healthier than another one.


    • I am also unconvinced by the suggestion that nipple color could be any sort of indicator of health. I think it’s just a matter of skin color. Dark skinned people have darker nipples. Fair skinned people have lighter nipples. Neither is indicative of anything health related.


    • I find it kind of ironic and sad to say the least that you can generalize China as backwards and prejudiced when you’re making such a statement yourself.


    • It’s a good thing I don’t have a problem with my “almost non-existent” breasts, but if you do have a problem with the size of your breasts, this comment would be quite insensitive. It’s not the first time somebody gave me bra advice similar to that one. I can see how it might be unhealthy in that it constricts the area beneath your breasts (even with the more comfy ones, I have yet to come across a bra that doesn’t do that).


  2. This is hilarious, but only because I’m reading it in English. If I had read/heard, “Your breasts are almost non-existent,” in Chinese, I wouldn’t have batted an eye.

    As you noted, this is the sort of thing Chinese people say to one another in a matter-of-fact manner all the time, which many Westerners find shocking. Audiences in the West watch dating shows like “If You Are The One” and marvel at the brutal way in which the women often reject the men. But to the Chinese, the women are just being honest and frank when they reject the men for being too fat, too ugly, or too poor.


    • You’re right, people say things about other people’s appearance all of the time in China without these things being considered rude, whereas in some other cultures this would be a no-go if it’s not something positive.


      • It’s interesting that you draw a distinction between positive and negative comments. It’s now considered unacceptable in the West for people to make any comment about another person’s appearance in a workplace environment, even if the comment is complimentary. If you were lucky, you would just be considered “unprofessional”; if you were unlucky, you could be sued for sexual harassment.


        • I was thinking more of informal situations. I think Austrians don’t pay many compliments concerning other people’s appearances, but it wouldn’t be uncommon for friends to do that. Negative comments would be a different story, informal situation or not.


      • I see. But imagine people having a casual chat at the water cooler at the office. In Anglosphere countries, commenting on other people’s appearance in this situation has become something of a sensitive issue.

        Non-English-speaking European countries tend to be less uptight about such things, or so I hear. I don’t know if it’s the same in Austria.


  3. A personal anecdote involving Chinese bluntness:

    I have quite a few moles on my forearms. They’re not very big or otherwise remarkable, and I barely ever give them a thought. One time when I was wearing a T-shirt in the company of some Chinese friends, a woman pointed to my arm and asked, “What’s that?” I tried to explain it to her. Then she said, “That looks ugly. It looks like some kind of disease.”


    • Was that conversation in Chinese or in English? Some Chinese words do sound quite harsh when directly translated into English. They surely do use a lot of “strong” words and while I wouldn’t give it a second thought if I heard it in Chinese, hearing it in English is a bit different.


      • It was all in Chinese. I wasn’t particularly taken aback by those remarks at the time – like you, I’m used to this sort of bluntness in China. For the most part I don’t mind it.


  4. Wow! I’ve had lots of massages in China but never a breast one! haha. It would feel weird, I think.
    The most painful part when I get a massage is always the buttocks… I wonder what’s wrong there!


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