I received many thoughtful responses to my last blog, Do I Deserve to Be Cuddled If I’m Ugly? One came from a graduate of our workshop leader program. Matthew is a sensitive, talented human being who came to us all the way from Europe. He has a kind heart and a deep commitment to helping people. Matthew sent this story to me as a personal email. When I asked if I could share it with you, he didn’t hesitate – even though it explores a tough topic – his personal prejudice. We’ve decided to change his name because this story involves his family members.
Do I Deserve to Be Cuddled If I’m Fat?
Lots of times people ask me if only ugly people come to cuddle events. I tell them, “People like you and I come to them. They come in all ages, looks and sizes.” Then I tell them about my first cuddle event in Germany.
I was very curious about who would attend. It was a positive experience from the start. I met and cuddled a bit with several people including a very handsome, early thirties guy named Jakob (not his real name). During a break, I was talking to him and asked him why he comes to these meetings. Now I realize that I myself wondered why a “great looking” guy like himself would come to these events. I guess I was asking myself the same question, “Do only ugly people came to these meetings?” He answered, “These events help me break down my prejudices.” A cool response! But to tell you the truth, I didn’t understand it completely.
Fast forward to a cuddle event in the U.S. After I took your cuddle training, I attended several cuddle events in different cities and countries. I felt comfortable because I knew they were about consent and that touch was optional. At this event, a very obese young man named Sean (not his real name) came in. We were a very small group of about eight people. I cringed inside. I didn’t know if I wanted to cuddle with him. I’ve always harbored prejudices against really overweight people.
One of the first exercises provided a chance for everyone to give everyone else a hug. I knew that I could always say “no thanks,” but I decided to go along with it. I was surprised how much I enjoyed his hug. But shortly after that, there was an exercise where people were supposed to get in pairs. The first person I paired with, I found attractive. But on the next round, everyone paired up quickly and Sean and I were the only ones left. I decided to grin and bear it.
We laid ourselves next to each other on a futon and put our arms lightly around each other’s shoulders. We were both very still. I was surprised to realize how warm and gentle the experience was for me. I started thinking about all of the people I have inwardly negated – turning away emotionally because of their large size. Two of the people on my mind I am close to and claim to love – my son and my twin sister.
I felt ashamed for probably hurting them subconsciously with my judgement their whole adult lives. And there on the futon (and as I’m writing this email) I started to cry. And so did Sean. For a good ten minutes, we lay there and cried and held each other tighter and tighter. My prejudices against Sean’s shape melted away. It is one of the most beautiful cuddles I have ever experienced.
Then I remembered Jakob from my first event, and NOW I GET IT!
I feel like this experience broke my prejudice. I have a much more open heart to my twin, my son and the overweight people I meet day to day and at each cuddle.
I am so grateful for my cuddle journey!