Are you willing to pay $350 in the name of beauty? Do you have no sense of scientific literacy and want to get a quick fix? Do believe that anything coming from the “mythical land of the East” is magical? Then welcome to Tata Massage, where trained specialists are waiting to literally slap the wrinkles away! These Thai specialists are waiting to smack some sense into you, and some wrinkles out of you. So come on down to the new store in San Francisco, California, where Tata Massage celebrated their grand opening on October 23rd! Or, you know… don’t.
Wow. After reading about this ridiculous “massage” treatment, my whole body felt me face-palm so hard that I think I just de-wrinkled most of my sperm.
But on a more serious note… this is a joke. It’s a joke in that it’s actually serious.
I want to just take a moment to browse the website to show you what low-grade pseudoscience looks like. Follow along and let’s play “spot the red flags.”
The first thing you might notice is the intriguing Eastern art, apparently showing… an elephant being slapped in the face. Next to that picture is the compelling statement: “So beautiful that your beauty will charm everyone.” Stop right there – you had me at “beautiful.” I’m sold.
Here are the two “rules” from the website:
1. Face Slapping consultation fee $5 before treatment.
2. Before we start your treatment, you will know the expectations of your results. The words “no results” or “no change” is impossible. If we accept to start your treatment, you need to take before and after photo, follow the store’s rules, and sign your name as proof of agreeing to the results that were discussed before treatment.
I know some of their English is not perfect, so let me just translate and cut through the nonsense:
Rule #1 of slap-club: Don’t talk about slap-club.
Rule #2 of slap-club: You have to let us take before and after photos so that we can use them as proof of how effective our treatment is.
If someone so vigorously states that the conditions for treating you is that you submit yourself to their rules (i.e., “follow the store’s rules”) without actually telling you what those rules are… that’s a red flag. But an even bigger one is the statement “We accept CASH ONLY” beneath it. Most low-level pseudoscience and alternative medicine dislikes leaving paper trails. That makes sense, because they don’t want to be held accountable for any potential lawsuits. In fact, I’m pretty sure they’ll have you sign something that says that you can’t sue them if anything goes wrong.
When you click to learn “about Tata,” you get an interesting welcome message. “My name,” we are informed, “is Rassameesaitarn New Series World.” Is that… Ms. or Mrs. New Series World? Regardless, we are also informed that we can call her Tata. Tata continues…
Face slapping is well known internationally and uses Thai wisdom to bring out your own beautythat [sic] is 100% chemical free. Most importantly nothing is forever and this is what you call natural beauty. Tata massage is unique beauty, and is a profession of true wisdom.
The profession of face slapping has been passed down from generation to generation. It is prideful to see this wisdom of the face slapping profession become well known across Thailand and accepted internationally. This certificate is the guarantee. I am proud to be the only one to bring the face slapping knowledge and profession “Goes International” to the western hemisphere.
So beautiful, that your beauty will charm everyone. “Don’t give a care if you want to be beautiful and handsome.” Come to slap your face “Goes International” by calling today to experience natural beauty that is 100% chemical free. Confidently come use my service.
If this alternative medicine practice doesn’t die out after a few weeks, it will only be because Americans believe that anything from the far East is mythical and special. If you saw Tata at the bus stop, she would be considered crazy (or Medusa, if Medusa had coat hangers for hair instead of snakes). But instead, she runs her own alternative medicine store, so she must just be spiritual. This double-standard is all too common in America, because so much of the population is horribly science illiterate – not to mention the growing distrust and dislike of education and intelligence there.
I also love the “Media” page, which I was expecting to have more than just a bunch of home-made videos uploaded to YouTube. But no… that’s all you get. One video includes an interview with a random girl on the street who’s polite enough to go along with what Tata said, despite have no idea what she was talking about.
But if you’re still skeptical, think about Tata’s impressive credentials. What are they? Well… she was taught the art of face-slapping, naturally. So there’s that. And, well… that’s about it.
My favorite part of listening to alt-med practitioners is hearing them explain their practice. Her husband, Mawan Sombuntham, explains it well. NYDailyNews reports:
The couple opened Tata Massage on Tuesday. It’s the first place to offer face-slapping in the western hemisphere, Sombuntham said. The only other is in Thailand, where Tata learned the art.
“This has been around for more than 100 years,” Sombuntham said. “The reason why there are so few people who can do this is because [Tata’s] teacher is very selective in choosing who to teach this technique to. She is only going to accept 10 students of face-slapping in her lifetime.”
Sombuntham touts the beauty method as an “alternative to Botox, plastic surgery and face creams.”
Sombuntham makes a good case. Plastic surgery is expensive, and face creams might not work. And injecting yourself? That’s just crazy. Getting slapped in the face – that’s the secret to staying young. The following video shows further “explanation”:
“Circulation is part of it… but I would say it’s optimizing the fat and tissues and muscles that are in the face.”
So at least you can rest assured that Sombuntham knows what he’s talking about. The fat and tissues, you know? And the muscles. …In the face. Because slapping them optimizes them. Duh!
But they seem to have at least some semblance of support from a competitor, no less, in Dr. Matthew Schulman.
Dr. Matthew Schulman, a plastic surgeon in New York City, says there’s truth to Sombuntham’s claims. Slapping the face will dilate blood vessels and increase blood flow to the area, which can remove free radicals and toxins, helping to stimulate collagen and improve skin quality, he explained to the Daily News.
Still, it won’t compare to going under the knife.
“While I do not see face slapping as replacing more invasive cosmetic procedures such as face lifts and neck lifts, it may be an alternative way to promote healthy skin,” Schulman said.
Really? You’re going to endorse it by talking about increased blood flow that can remove toxins and help stimulate collagen…? Well then… it’s probably time I gave a scientifically substantiated alternative. But I’ll do it in the form of how I would advertise this to the American public, if I was a common alternative medicine peddler.
That’s right – just what the doctor ordered! An orgasm a day keeps the plastic surgeon away! That’s what scientists are discovering in science laboratories all over the world.
New research has found that a hormone released during orgasm – dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) – is the body’s natural anti-aging cream. And guess what? That means you’re only one step away from the beautiful wrinkle-free face you’ve always wanted!
How does it work? We have professionals in every corner of the world waiting for your beck and call. Back alleys, sex clubs, brothels – you name it! Just find someone nearby and mention us.
And the best part? Almost 100% of those workers charge a lot less than $350*!
*Facial slapping costs extra (available upon request)
That’s right. If you’re endorsing face-slapping, I’m endorsing prostitution. Your move, Schulman.
But wait, there’s more.
Tata will return to Thailand this year to learn butt-punching.
“It’s ancient Thai wisdom,” Sombuntham said. “It firms and shapes the butt.”
I’m not sure what shape butts are in Thailand, but I can’t imagine that they really need reshaping, or that punching them will do the trick. But then, I live in the real world, and not in the world of alternative medicine and magic thinking. Instead of learning how to kick someone’s ass (literally), the Thai couple should be enrolled in a critical thinking class immediately. Failing that, potential consumers should enroll instead.
If we accept slaps to the face as a beauty treatment, then where will it end? If manipulating circulation is all that you need to endorse something, you may as well put a sticker on a rolling pin and call it a “cylindrical revitalization rod” and give that a spin.
But if I’m sounding too harsh or cynical, it’s only because this kind of thing is worse than just a waste of time for the consumer. It’s a waste of money for the consumer, and it makes universities have to waste their energy and resources debunking it if it gets too popular. I have no sympathy for this type of alternative medicine practitioners, and I really wish they would just change to more reasonable career paths because they’re probably just sincere people. All though, seriously, $350 isn’t in the innocent “we just want to help other people” range.
The Bottom Line
I want to end this article with that giant advertisement at the top of this post, because it looks a bit suspicious. I don’t know if those are really before and after pictures, when those were taken, and how much treatment was given between those shots – no details are given. In short, they could be total nonsense. Advertisers have lied about before and after photos for decades – especially with weight-loss commercials. But there’s also the fact that these pictures were taken with totally different conditions. The left photo is of a girl taken with a clear camera in a darker room. The right photo is with more lighting from the quality of an grainy cellphone camera.
There’s a lot you can say about this before and after comparison… but the thing that really struck me was her facial expressions. Someone sure slapped the smile right off her face.