Hugging Beautiful Women

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:


3 thoughts on “Hugging Beautiful Women

  1. Thoughtful, eloquent, as always. My experience has sometimes been similar, though I have hugged my share of both beautiful men and women. Perhaps it is the fact that I am short (only 5′ 1in”) and female and my Free Hugs “uniform” helps; I usually wear a lil pink skirt and fairywings along with a pink FREE HUGS T-shirt, so I appear completely harmless because I do not look like a “regular” person. Some may say this detracts from the “genuineness” of what I am doing; however it is a purposeful choice in that it opens people more to receiving a hug from a stranger; the “huggees” have told me this many times. From experiences over 4 years or more of doing Free Hugs in NYC, New Orleans, Paris, Madrid, Valencia, Rome, Berlin, Eskilstuna, Sweden, a school outside of London, etc, I have had countless hugs where people share deeply personal details of their lives because they feel comfortable enough in that embrace to do so.

    And some of those people are the “Beautiful” people. My friend Mollie Free-Hugged with me, she has done modeling, she is definitely a BEAUTIFUL person, and she LOVED the experience. It is interesting to note that Mollie and I have had several conversations where she speaks about all the unwanted attention she receives simply looking as she does on the external. It is more difficult to be a “Beautiful” person than many may realize; high expectations, others treating one with disdain, assumptions that life must be so much easier, people NOT interacting because of their own insecurities, the list goes on…. that being said, you’ve made some poignant observations (as always) Keep on HUGGING, we all need them. My favorite hugs continue to be from the marginalized; the homeless, those on the fringes, who do NOT believe they are Worth a HUG. That is some deep heart power.

    • Yes. You get my basic point here I think… that while assumptions may lie to the contrary, it seems to me that being beautiful can lead to being marginalized (in a subtler and different sort of way). Of course it is quite impossible to write all I could have said about this in a blog post, but I agree that not just the sexualization and perceived sexualization of interactions, but also the expectations and insecurities and assumptions from other people make it hard. And the list does go on. My point was to consider some compassion for the sadder side of what society tends to teach us is an unimpeachable advantage… And the sad consequences of suspicion/disconnection that could result. I will be curious to notice things about beautiful men and hugging now that I’ve made these observations. Maybe that will be a later post.

      The fact that you are a woman certainly will eliminate some of this effect – though I think I’ve observed that some female co-huggers of mine have still had some of the same response. You are also certainly right that hugging with your uniform changes things… I similarly went hugging one time in a full-body, fuzzy Tigger onesie, and I noticed that a solid number of people who probably wouldn’t have hugged me otherwise, did (and beautiful women were perhaps disproportionally more likely to hug than usual). But I also found that a similar number of people who would have hugged me otherwise saw it as a joke, or disingenuous and didn’t hug me – and many people who did hug me took shallower, more photo-oppy hugs than they might have otherwise.

      But you and I have slightly different purposes to our hugging, I believe. Your primary focus, I think, is to spread joy and cheer to people… and for that I think your fairy uniform is perfect. For my purpose with hugging (more primarily to promote openness, acceptance, self-worth, and human dignity), it is very important that I be as fully human and as “regular” as I can be in my presentation. I may end up with slightly fewer hugs, but the hugs themselves, and the message that my presence as the hugger carry are much more what I want them to be. And, I feel that the act of free hugging itself is already enough of a departure from “regular” life… but I want the hugs to be able to affect a person perhaps into their lives, and that I feel can be done best the more human I am, the interaction is, and the hugs are. This also I believe is why you like to go hugging in larger groups and larger spaces (at least more than I do) and have more of an event of it, and I much prefer it in more intimate, unexpected, and “regular” settings. I don’t doubt your genuineness in the way you do it, but wearing a uniform cannot work for me for what I want the hugs and the hugging to be. And one nice side benefit of it too is that it gives me a chance to see people’s responses as rooted in a human-human interaction… which makes this blog I think more plausible.

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