This is something I've been wanting to write about for a while now because of the sudden media attention surrounding cuddle parties and professional cuddlists. Generally, when there's an article published about cuddling strangers (which is effectively what these events are) roughly 90% of people react with something along the lines of "ew!" or "weirdos!".
I, on the other hand, am fascinated and am fully considering going through training to be a professional cuddlist. The science surrounding physical contact shows that it can have a significant impact on mental health due to the fact that it results in a release of oxytocin - you know those happy hormones I keep banging on about? Oxytocin is one of the major players!
There are other factors about these cuddling sessions that I love, one being the massive emphasis on consent. If you ask anyone who has hosted, attended, or researched cuddle parties and cuddlists what the number one rule is, they will most likely tell you that it's consent. Strange as it may sound, there are people who go to cuddle parties and don't cuddle. They just sit in a room of people, maybe hold someone's hand; and that's okay, nobody's going to force them to do more than they are comfortable doing.
And let's face it, when we're living in a world where judges think it's acceptable for a man to assault an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, and where people run to said man's defense, teaching consent is important. So yes, I love the idea of cuddle parties and cuddlists. For some people it's virtually the only physical contact they get, for others, it's somewhere for them to have physical contact on their terms. I genuinely think it's an amazing and long overdue movement.