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‘SVU’ Star Mariska Hargitay Partners With Stress-Relieving Stuffed Animal Brand Hugimals for a Cause Close to Her Heart

A portion of proceeds from her adorable pillow will go to her Joyful Heart Foundation

For over 25 years, Mariska Hargitay has embodied strong womanhood as Olivia Benson, the no-nonsense detective at the heart of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Over the show’s 500-plus episodes, Benson has investigated countless harrowing crimes, and dealing with such heavy subject matter on the show led Hargitay to launch the Joyful Heart Foundation, a charity dedicated to supporting survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, in 2004.

The Joyful Heart Foundation is deeply personal to the actress, as she’s received countless letters from survivors thanks to her signature role, and she’s developed a deep sensitivity and empathy towards the trauma that far too many women and girls face.

Hargitay’s latest project is a collaboration with Hugimals, a brand of stress-relieving weighted stuffed animals. Read on to learn more about Hargitay’s work with Hugimals and see how her limited-edition design for the brand helps to raise awareness for a powerful cause.

A special collaboration between Hargitay and Hugimals

Hugimals launched in 2022 and quickly became known for their signature mix of cute animals and science-backed comfort. Similar to a weighted blanket, the brand’s weighted stuffed animals have calming effects that benefit children and adults alike. The pressure of these heavier than average stuffies feels like a cozy hug — hence the name.

MUST-READ: “I Eased Years of Stress by Hugging a Weighted Stuffed Animal!”

Hargitay’s partnership with Hugimals is an extension of her charity work, and it’s a natural fit, given the importance of practicing self-care when it comes to healing from trauma.

Hargitay just launched her Heart to Hug Pillow, a limited-edition 5-pound plush weighted pillow that’s shaped like a heart and is available in “Peaceful Pink” or “Fearless Red.”

Mariska Hargitay holding her Hugimals heart-shaped pillow
Mariska Hargitay with her Heart to Hug PillowCourtesy of Hugimals

Hargitay helped design the adorable plush pillow and 10% of net sales from her $44 creation will go directly to the Joyful Heart Foundation. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so the release is particularly meaningful.

The benefits of weighted pillows

Hugimals are meant to be both physically and emotionally comforting, and they boost real benefits, as they offer an accessible form of Deep Touch Pressure Therapy. This therapy, which is often used by psychologists and occupational therapists, makes use of weighted items to calm the nervous system and slow down the fight-or-flight response.

Woman reclining on couch with heart shaped weighted Hugimals pillow
Cuddling with a Hugimal can help you relaxCourtesy of Hugimals

Deep Touch Pressure Therapy has particular benefits for people who are neurodivergent or dealing with anxiety, but anyone can take advantage of it in the comfort of their own home and enjoy the calming effects.

A weighted pillow or stuffed animal is a more accessibly priced, less smothering option than the average weighted blanket, and it’s no wonder such items have gotten so popular during these stressful times we’re living in.

MUST-READ: How and Why Weighted Blankets Help to Ease Anxiety and Depression

What Hargitay has to say about her pillow

Hargitay’s Hugimals collaboration isn’t just any celebrity partnership. In a statement, Hargitay outlined just how much this pillow means to her.

“At Joyful Heart, we transform the way our society responds to those of us who have experienced harm,” she said. “One response — which we’re fortunately in charge of and can practice ourselves — is self-care.”

MUST-READ: How ‘SVU’ Star Mariska Hargitay Got Her Start and The Advice That Keeps Her Going: ‘Get Up and Try Again’

Hargitay sees her pillow as a vital self-care tool, saying, “I use my Heart to Hug Pillow — and have shared them with family and friends — for that very reason: they’re a way of responding to our own needs, on our own terms. The idea is simple but profound, both scientific and intuitive. Gentle weighted pressure helps soothe the mind, body and heart. It’s a gift of healing touch, for ourselves and others, while we work to make a more compassionate world.”

Two heart-shaped Hugimals pillows on couch
The Hugimals pillows also look cute on the couchCourtesy of Hugimals

This act of slowing down and taking time for ourselves is essential, and the Heart to Hug Pillow lets us do it in style — while also contributing to an important cause.

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