Why we are all in need of a little tenderness | Eva Wiseman

Kindness, an act of care, a reaching out, a gentle touch, a small act of altruism… With the world in the state it’s in, we are all searching for that tender moment

I keep hearing a word. “Tender”. Like, the lingering look or act of care, or small kindness, or moment of profound unexpected connection. Tenderness. Walk through a city tomorrow and you will see a reference to it as often as you’ll see a Pret, on billboards, on film posters, in the songs people hum. I keep reading about it in reviews, whether of road movies, political documentaries, or a sex comedy about a widow in middle age. I hear it in interviews with artists who work with clay and paint, and pop stars talking about love. On TV a Star Wars series, a Sally Rooney show, a prison drama and a comedy about the friendship between a gay and straight student have all recently been described as “tender” too, as well as a menswear collection inspired by 18th-century nightwear. We see tenderness in unlikely places because, I think, there’s a yearning for intimacy right now. A need.

When the lockdowns were lifting many of us predicted the year ahead would be wild and raw – we’d be like animals, released. There was a kind of sugar in the air, which I was certain would lead to feral hookups and lust, a bawdy celebration of uncomplicated touch. But it turns out what people wanted was not to be invited out for a frantic shag, but instead to be invited in, for tea and pillow talk, to let the soft animal of their body love what it loves. Where I thought there’d be orgies in Tesco’s frozen aisle, instead we’re obsessing over eye contact and the brush of someone’s hand on a wrist and a poem about peaches. We were like animals when we finally left our houses, just, not the dogs and tigers I’d assumed, more – baby chicks and the YouTube farm cats that mother them by accident when they’re orphaned by a fox.

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