I have been out of commission from my travels and my hugging ways for a couple of weeks. A case of swimmer’s ear from a thermal bath in Switzerland left me needing to rest. But enough of unpleasant things. On to what many people find pleasant… beautiful women.
I returned to hugging with a brief stop, and accompanied by a friend of mine, at the main walking strip of small-town, Kempten, Germany:
We didn’t hug long enough – nor was the atmosphere right or my sense of presence strong enough – for me to make grand observations about hugging in this more old-fashioned German town. But, an observation I’ve made in the past did return to me in the form of several groups of attractive women who scoffed at the idea of a hug: Beautiful women find the idea of hugging a stranger more repulsive, and here’s why I think that is…
First, I should note that there may be some subconscious way I approach the offer of a hug differently when it’s to a group of attractive women. It’s certainly not my intention to do so, but it is possible that I have some tendency to be more timid, more desirous, more closed, or more self-conscious that I may be judged to be poorly motivated in my offer of a hug. Or from my long-standing observation that such women are less likely to take a hug, I may be more reluctant to make an offer or more defeatist in the way I do it. I try to make all hug-offers equally welcoming, but I’m imperfect, and I don’t want to dismiss this possibility. I have long observed (as particularly in this previous post) that the degree of presence I exhibit and how I make the offer of a hug are huge factors in how willing someone is to engage, and that could be involved here.
But, I do think there is some independent difference in how beautiful women respond to the idea of hugging strangers, and I’d like to examine that difference and what it might say a bit here… It’s not just the fact that such women tend to turn down a hug. It’s the particular sense of disgust I notice in how they do so. Plenty of people aren’t interested in a hug. But it seems to be the attractive women, and the men who insist they won’t hug me ‘cause they’re “not gay,” who act the most offended by the offer. Both, it seems to me, are reacting out of some sense of sexual fear.
It will come as no surprise to any female readers here that women are likely to be the subject of unwanted sexual attention… and for ‘attractive’ women, this may be a way of life. Or, at least they feel perhaps that it is the way of their life. Driven by I’m sure a reality that they do face ogling eyes and forward remarks, sexist comments and sexual advances, unwanted attention and ulterior motives to a greater degree, they come to expect the communication directed at them to be colored in this way. This has been my experience in other parts of my life, but especially this is my experience when I’m offering hugs.
It may seem obvious that “sexier” women would show more of a suspicion that my offer of hugs is somehow sexual, but let’s examine for a moment what this means for them. To me, this is a tragedy in some way. Just by the luck of their physical appearance, there is a whole group of human beings who find it more difficult to believe in the genuineness of an offer of kindness. There is a whole group of human beings who find it more difficult perhaps to trust people’s motivations or to be open to connection. If every attempt at connection seems a sexual advance, it must be hard. And the fact that I feel I’ve observed this same effect of “hugging beautiful women” to some extent even when the person offering the hugs is female says to me that this sense of suspicion has spread more deeply into how they engage the world.
I have of course come across beautiful women who are much more open to connection or hugs than the generalization I’ve made. But I don’t think that’s an easy thing to accomplish if you are a woman with great physical beauty. It seems to me that there is a cycle and a trap that must be hard to avoid: a lifetime of different treatment leads to a suspicion that all attention is colored in a certain way and an ensuing difficulty in seeing beyond sexuality to generosity, openness, or trust. And that is the tragedy I feel I see here.
So dear readers, I ask you to hug someone beautiful you know. Hug them in as sexless a way as you can. And hug them with compassion for that it may be harder for them to be recognized for beauty they have within, and it may be harder for them to feel just welcomed.
Because I don’t really have a picture to go with this topic, here’s a (slightly) relevant one from the internet: