A Smiling Baby Is Always Beautiful

Evident by the global mass of selfies, trendy grooming services and the booming personal training industry, we are living in a world where appearance matters much more than ever before.

Nowadays, people would pay millions of dollars and suffer immensely just to look more attractive. This brings to mind the famous proverb to “Never judge a book by its cover.” However, when you praise your child, do you focus on the efforts and actions of your child? Or, do you allow compliments like “You are so cute!” and “You look so beautiful/handsome!” to take priority?

When I was pregnant, I forced myself to stare at photos of beautiful babies whenever possible. Somehow people in China believe that this will help the fetus to develop into a good-looking human being. After all, everyone wants a beautiful baby.

Research has shown that good-looking people are usually given more opportunities and convenience in life.Even newborns react more positively toward more attractive faces among others, according to a scientific study. Thus, I believed that being attractive would give my child a step up in this competitive society.

My son represented a wrinkled, hairless little monkey when he was born. I didn’t realize that he really is cute until my mother and I were stopped by people while taking a walk in the neighborhood with my baby boy. Our neighbors and even strangers on the street would come over to us and comment on how beautiful my son is.

His popularity started to bring along some special treats or should we say “privileges.” We were bumped to the front of the waiting line in the doctor’s clinic. We were given extra freebies while shopping with my son. The photo studio we went to for his one-year birthday proposed to use his photo in their marketing advertisements. Isn’t it wonderful?

During the last Spring Festival, I took my son back to my hometown for a visit. He was learning to eat by himself. His clumsiness and funny expressions drew quite a lot of unnecessary attention. Five or six relatives stood right beside his tiny dining chair while watching him, teasing him. I was shocked and to be honest, it made me worry about the possibility of my son turning into a narcissistic, shallow, spoiled brat.

So, should people just expect average-looking babies instead?

There is a story known as“Rui Yun,” from Strange Tales From A Chinese Studio, written by Pu Songling, a novelist in the Qing Dynasty. To make a long story short, this beautiful girl Rui Yun cannot get together with her lover, a young man who is too poor to buy her out from the brothel where she works. Of course, the bawd is no fool because tons of high officials and noble landlords are willing to pay a fortune just to take a look at Rui Yun. However, a scholar-like wizard comes to help. He uses a Chinese calligraphy brush to imprint a permanent dark mark on her forehead, which causes Rui Yun to be kicked out by the bawd. Rui Yun’s lover finds her and they live happily together.

Wouldn’t it be better and more effective to focus on the efforts and talents of our children to bring the beauty from inside out?

The inspirational part of the story is as the wizard puts it, “I covered her glamor but she stays a true beauty inside.”

It is a blessing when someone is born attractive. But it is hard work for the parents to cultivate true inner beauty, regardless of how their children may appear on the outside.

One thing that has come to my attention, is how people stop to look at my son not just because he is good-looking, but because he is smiling all the time. We taught him to say “Hi,” wave goodbye, blow a kiss even, when he was just months old. He will say “Thank you” even though he can’t pronounce it correctly. He will ask for help to get the things he wants, rather than manipulate people by using his irresistible cuteness. And that’s just it. Isn’t that real beauty? A smile, communication and friendliness—they are beautiful things. Wouldn’t it be better and more effective to focus on the efforts and talents of our children to bring the beauty from inside out? Essentially, this can foster security, self-assurance and the willing to strive for the right goals in life.

Category Op-Ed