BREAKING TOPICS: Does the size matter?
My first post was heavily based on my role during shibari, a rigger’s take on the reasons why someone would enjoy shibari. Today I want to tackle another of the questions that I’ve been asked the most, and it is usually presented through the model’s perspective: Does the size matter? Sadly, most of the visualization that shibari gets these days, is portrayed over one type of body, and even though there are some models that expose other alternatives, such as plus size, petite, different genders and ambiguities, those can be considered more of a minority. A lot of people fear that their size is going to matter during shibari and, may even not be able to perform because of it. From my personal perspective, the answer is no, it doesn’t matter. It definitely affects the process but everyone can adapt themselves to different sizes, and that’s part of the fun of it, it can be considered a challenge. Still, for other people the answer is yes, it matters, especially for the riggers, since they have to deal with body shapes that they may have never had to deal with before, which makes them struggle with their technique. It can also be a matter of personal taste, as always, it depends on the person. Still, if you centre your technique around just one type of body, I feel like your party may be kind of boring, and missing the excitement that diversity brings to the table.
In my case, almost everyone is taller than me, I’m just 1.55m tall after all, and I’ve engaged in shibari with every interesting person I’ve found, independently of their gender, body or age. I don’t see them as bodies to tie up but as people with whom I want to connect and interact, maybe learn something from it. Still, we have to agree on the fact that their bodies are important during the process because nevertheless, it is an exercise that involves the body. A petite physique may not notice errors easily, but someone with a bigger physique will feel those errors way more, since the distribution of weight plays an important role, especially when suspended. This is the reason why I take my technique so seriously, in order to help every body shape feel comfortable and enjoy their personal experience. All things considered, the size matters but as usual, each one of us decide just how much.
What I value is sharing that experience with someone I like, it is more about the encounter and the process than the external aspect of it. We have to understand that, from a rigger’s perspective, to tie up someone of your own size or less, is not the same as tying up someone bigger. When we are dealing with this kind of difference, a rigger must have the right knowledge and experience about mass, weight, flexibility and mobility. They must have a conscience of the body in order to not put the model in danger. Safety always comes first, and if a rigger refuses to work with certain body types, it can be due to the consciousness of their lack of skill, and not discrimination, as some may think. Even though they may have their own reasons, it is clear that there are profiles of riggers that only tie one shape of body. I don’t think I could enjoy this kind of restriction. It seems repetitive. Still, if you see my work on social media I can come across as someone with a one-type profile. Don’t get confused by it though, not all of the people that come to be tied up or learn about it on workshops, come to take pictures of it as well. Actually, the vast majority of my friends with whom I’ve done shibari have curvy bodies, or are plus size, and prefer not to be portrayed while during shibari. There are many reasons why some people may not want to be portrayed. The main ones being, the social pressure on body size (even though the new movements of body positivity are fighting these standards) and, the stigma around shibari being heavily connected to sexuality in popular culture. Those two facts, alongside with many others, can hold back someone who may want to share their experience with the world, as they can feel afraid of being judged by professional colleagues, relatives, friends, or strangers. However, I want to highlight that shibari doesn’t have to be sexual, it is a common mistake to assume that all portrayals of shibari are related to sex. It can be personal and private for some people, and for others it can be public and professional. It can even be considered a social activity, so you shouldn’t base your perspective of it on what you see on social media. In fact, the grand majority can be practiced in other ways, exploring different aspects in private, and that should always be respected.
In the end, it is so clear to me that it doesn’t matter, it is just an issue of adapting your technique, so I wonder, why would some people give such importance to the size? Is it because they are afraid? Maybe because they lack the knowledge to tie bigger sizes? Is it due to their personal taste? Is it perhaps because you have prejudices? What do you think? Have you ever questioned you size or the others’ when it comes to shibari?