Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Penguins And A Drill

"She's sponsored by a local company that makes snow blowers."

I just spoke with a very nice lady who mistakenly told me that her daughter is the most beautiful creature on Earth. So beautiful that she enters her into as many of beauty competitions that can be found after hours and hours of research. Which apparently includes Albany and Syracuse. Now, I understand that some people think their little trolls are pretty or cute. That's fine. It may be grossly delusional but love makes people think things about others that are entirely fictional. That's why you hear those crazy stories about someone you know who got sepsis and might die because he got drunk and carved his girlfriend's name into his thigh with a modified paint scraper to show her how much he loved her (to be fair that might just be me who holds that particular story).

Still - comparing your child to a group of others for status and/or cash (I'm honestly not sure if these things have monetary rewards at all) is madness. It can only encourage poor behavior. In this case it isn't the weird kids-in-evening-wear creepiness of Jon Benet Ramsey. It's just entering photos of the kid's head (mainly) to local competitions and then having other people vote to say how amazingly pretty that child's head is. Which is weird and would make me wonder who - without being asked to - trawls websites looking for child beauty competitions to vote on. Add the inherent weirdness of getting sponsorship. And from someone who makes or sells snow blowers (I was unclear on this). The alleged classiness and suave sophistication that this person presumably feels is bestowed upon their family by a beauty competition victory has to be negated knowing that the kid's face is being used to sell a machine that men in beige dungarees push up and down a driveway.

I'd be terrified of drastically altering my child in a negative way by doing that too. For example - I'm hoping that I will helpfully cause my children to develop a phobia of penguins. Except phobias are inexplicable and I have detailed many times the cogent and numerous reasons as to why penguins should not be trusted. I've shown them queuing up and huddled in a big pile clearly hiding something. And footage of them eating. But in case that doesn't do it I've taken the liberty of night-time whispering into their ears about an imagined threeway Mexican standoff they find themselves in with Harvey Keitel and Tim Roth - only for Roth to rip his face off to reveal that he's a penguin. That should do the trick.

But outside of that I worry that something else I do will trigger irrational fears. I have many of my own that I hope they don't get. I used to be afraid of large bodies of water. Not any more but I still can't swim. I also have a phobia of blind people - which is why I spend a lot of time online safe in the knowledge that they can't find out where I am. But entering your six year old (and evidently has done since birth) into all kinds of competitions in which strangers give you feedback on how they look has to cause problems doesn't it? Winning those things would make a parent and child unbearably vain. Losing them - whether the kid wants to be entered or not - has to cause them to wonder why they aren't as pretty as others are judged to be. Or why their mother insists on crying about how ugly they are and that if they would just lose a few pounds they might place third next time.

Anyhoo - here is something I consider to be beautiful - my little girl with a drill.

Thank goodness my kids aren't going to develop the mental scars that a beauty competition would bring.

1 comment:

  1. Just a couple of comments. 1) when your daughter gets to that age, boyfriends better not piss her off because she has the potential to be serial killer. 2) there are proven methods to create phobias. I know 'cos I've studied this subject (but never used the knowledge to create a phobia).