Monday, June 30, 2008

Is My Baby Cute? Why, Of Course!

The other night, on a rare occasion on which I was watching the national nightly news, there was a segment in which a reporter tried to determine whether or not his baby was cute. We won’t discuss here what this means for the quality of a half hour news broadcast when this is considered newsworthy. However, I did find it entertaining.

Katie Couric held the man’s baby. In my opinion, the baby was not very cute. He was an average baby who didn’t evince much personality.

So, this reporter goes on the street and shows people a photograph of his baby. Everyone coos, oh how cute! Then he doctors the photo, making the mouth wide, significantly uglifying the baby. The reactions remained the same – cute baby. He then added a brown spot to the baby’s chin and pointed out to people that the baby had a hairy mole. Still, no one said it was ugly.

He took the ugly picture to a priest, who also said only positive things. The reporter asked when it was sinful to say false things about a baby. The priest said only good things could be said about babies, because they are sweet and innocent.

So, in search for an honest opinion, the reporter took the undoctored baby photo to a representative of Wilhemina Models, Kids division. She also began with the platitudes – very nice baby.

“C’mon, be honest,” the reporter said.

“OK.” It didn’t take her long to budge, being a professional judge of baby beauty. “This is a very average baby,” she said. There he had it. Not that there is anything wrong with that. His baby might grow up to be intelligent, kind, gifted or many more important things. Or he might grow up to be a very hot man.

I have also been in the situation of being shown pictures of babies I found distinctly unattractive. However, the parent always thinks their child is cute. And if there is one thing a person cannot say, even in our free society, it’s to tell a parent that their baby is ugly.

How wonderful, I think, that hormones bind a woman so strongly to her child that she finds it beautiful no matter what. What it is that causes the father’s belief in his child’s beauty? Is it the fact that they child may resemble him and he doesn’t want to say boy, those are some ugly features? Or is it the miraculous process of seeing a life formed that causes him to consider it beautiful no matter what it really looks like? Or it is the intense involvement with the child’s life and development, allowing him to judge the beauty of the personality over the appearance?

I admit, there are brief moments in which I think to myself that my child is average looking. They occur when he puts on particular facial expressions or is in certain poses. Even when I have a flash of he-might-be-average thoughts, I still think he’s above average overall (ie. The Prairie Companion).

Most of the time though, I think he’s remarkably cute. My husband is in full agreement. The fact that he’s a smiley, happy baby certainly helps as does the fact that at six months old, he’s already posing for the camera. We can’t imagine that our baby might really be average or, gasp, ugly.

So, in order to be put in our place, we sent a couple of photos to the same modeling agency that the reporter visited. There are two potential outcomes. Either they respond with interest and we are confirmed in our belief in his innate beauty. Or, more likely, they don’t respond. In which case, I’m sure we’ll believe they just failed to recognize his incredible cuteness.

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