Do you need a hug? It’s a sad fact that for many people in our society, a hug is a rare occurrence. Maybe they’re single and have no-one to go home to. Maybe they’re elderly and have lost the people closest to them. Or maybe they just come from a family or circle of friends where hugging isn’t done.
A new company in Madison, Wisconsin is seeking to address this problem. The Snuggle House offers professional snuggling services where clients, for $60 an hour, can get all the hugs they need. According to the Snuggle House website, Touch Therapy offers a way to “feel "connected" in a disconnected, digital world”. They claim it is a legitimate form of therapy which is both confidential and discreet.
You may have alarm bells ringing at this. If so, you wouldn’t be the only one. The opening of the Snuggle House was delayed while city officials attempted to discern whether it was a “legitimate business” or just a new form of a brothel. Jennifer Zilavy, Assistant City Attorney, described their concerns, by saying: “If they're snuggling with somebody who gets aroused and wants more, what do they have in place to deal with that? Because that's going to happen, there's no doubt about it.”
In other words, the snugglers may have the best and purest of intentions, but what if someone takes advantage and tries to pay for services not advertised? As far as the authorities are concerned, it’s an unprecedented gray area and one which has the potential for abuse.
You can see the city’s point. The snuggling takes place in a bed, in private. Surely if the point was simply platonic hugging, then there would be no need for discretion, or pyjamas and bedding. The whole scenario puts it a little too close to prostitution for anyone to be entirely happy with.
The Snuggle House has hit back at these accusations, saying that clients are prescreened and there are firm boundaries put in place. There are abundant cameras, and the staff are trained to deal with any unauthorized behaviour. Mostly though, they expect clients to naturally abide by house rules. After all, it’s all about the love. As professional snuggler Hannah says “You are energized by this, because of that positive energy that's just kind of a part of that. Both people leave feeling uplifted. Their spirits and souls are not as heavy.”
So, it seems like it’s probably a legitimate business, and is based on one that has been run by Jackie Samuel in New York since last year, with no apparent difficulties. But, there are definitely question marks over the way it’s run, and whether strangers snuggling in bed for money is really the kind of thing that could ever become acceptable in our emotionally controlled society. Looks like the snugglers are going to have to tread carefully – trusting people to behave may be a lovely way to do business but it’s certainly a naïve one.
Until next time,
Peace, love and vitamin C!
Jennifer Pretty began her career as the director of artist development for a well-known Canadian music label. Branching out on her own, she then started her own PR business “Pretty Media Management” planning and hosting various charity, entertainment and fashion events. As a dance and fitness class enthusiast Jennifer is a firm believer in the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. She also loves to cook, travel, spend time with family and friends and most importantly living life to the fullest!