May 26, 2009
My mother asked me the other day whether I appreciated how beautiful my children are. Of course I do, says I. (With her pending surgery she is getting more sentimental and more philosophical.)
Apparently I didn’t say it with enough conviction because next thing I know she was dragging me into the kitchen to look at a magnetic picture of my daughter stuck to her fridge. “Look at that face. She’s gorgeous.” “I know.” I felt the need to prove that I did think my kids were good looking. As proof I called my kids into the room and told them to “Tell Oma how I am always saying how handsome and beautiful the two of you are.” My son says, “Well, that doesn’t count. You’re our Mom. Of course you think we’re good looking.”
This got me thinking. Do all parents think their kids are attractive? Let’s be honest. There are ugly children in the world. You know it and I know it. Ugly people come from somewhere. Now, the question is, do their parents recognize that they are ugly? I guarantee they do. From my own personal experience I can tell you that each of my kids went through a stage where they worried me a little bit. When my daughter was born she looked a little bit like a chimp. It didn’t take her long to outgrow it, but for awhile I thought we were going to have to nickname her “Bobo”. And my son, before we had his severe overbite corrected, looked as if he had no chin.
Then there’s that awkward period that every kid goes through when their face morphs from its child version into its adult version. It usually happens in middle school. Their faces get mushy and undefined all of a sudden. Then six months later they look like grown-up versions of themselves. But during the transition you’re never quite sure what they will transform into.
A Canadian study in 2005 found that attractive children are cared for more than unattractive children. They measured this by observing whether parents allowed their young children to engage in risky behavior at the grocery store. The results showed that ugly children were not strapped into the grocery cart as often. They were also allowed to stand in the cart and to wander away from their parents more often than attractive children. Is this coincidence or evolution at play, compelling us to take care of those favored with the preferable genes of our species?
I'm sure that the parents of truly ugly children search for what makes their child unique and emphasize that. In the long run maybe they turn out to be more balanced, realizing early on that looks aren't everything. I know a few people who could use that lesson. By the way the title to this post is my code phrase for "Oh my God what an ugly baby."