Friday, 8 February 2013

Mother and Baby Beauty Contests

All right-thinking people were no doubt filled with lashings of rage and indignation at the sight recently of four-year-old girls parading themselves across a catwalk, attired only in bikinis. Each seemingly an aspiring Lolita, they pouted and posed and did all that any self-respecting siren would do to win the hearts of the judges, the pride of the adoring parents, and the esteem of those less attractive than themselves. Yes, I am sure, rage and indignation swelled many a breast, but perhaps this is one of those instances when our concern for the wellbeing of our children leads us only into error and confusion. So, let me, for a moment, suggest another way of thinking about this.

An early instance of a 'mother & baby' beauty contest
Why not start such beauty contests even earlier? The sooner the girls learn the true nature of this world into which they have been so rudely thrust, the better for all concerned. Indeed, I am persuaded that the competitions should begin with mothers and babies, although the babies should be at least six weeks old (not out of any concern for their welfare, mind you, but because all newborns, regardless of their sex, look like nothing so much as wizened old men for whom life has gone dreadfully wrong, and all the encomia paid by friends and family to new parents notwithstanding, most of us would rather look upon them when they have become more accustomed to being seen in public). And so mother and baby could perambulate across the catwalk and be judged according to their style and poise and whether or not either one of them screams (and if so, for how long, at what pitch, and at how many decibels). Actually, while we're at it, and in the interests of gender equity, boys too might be allowed to compete, although they would be demonstrating not their beauty, of course, but their manly strength. They could strut and flex—or try to flex—their as yet unformed muscles, too modest yet to be seen, each a little Hercules ready to take the world upon his shoulders.

In this way might children be better prepared for the rough and tumble of life, in a world quite indifferent to our better notions of fairness and our beliefs in the right of everyone to go gently through their days. In a world, as I say, not only profoundly indifferent to fairness but in which beauty and strength are assets richly rewarded with friendship, preferment, wealth and contentment, why pretend otherwise?

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