Coo! Coo! Who’s A Homo Superior, Then?

If beauty is not important, why then do we always compliment mothers on their beautiful babies? One obvious answer is that there is nothing else on which we could possibly compliment them; it is far too early to say that they are intelligent, wise, kind or otherwise virtuous. Non-parents may even have trouble understanding how we can call babies beautiful at all, if they are mentally reserving this word for the parameters of adult beauty. But they are wrong. Said about a baby, ‘beautiful’ is actually a declaration of genetic health. It is like the way we compliment a mechanic on the note of his engine; beauty is shorthand for all possible excellence. Converted from biological to social terms, beauty is rank.

There is a hypothesis in evolutionary biology that what we are sexually attracted to in adults is markers that the Other is indeed of the same species. The principle might perhaps be extended to the reassurance of young mothers that their offspring enjoy full humanity. And, going beyond this, that they are genetically superior to their competitors, the other young mothers. Anyone not so far convinced is invited to consider the reaction of said mothers if their babies are not called beautiful, and contemplate what the resultant terrified outrage might really mean.

Posted on May 16, 2009 at 09:22 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, The Myth Of "Inner Beauty"

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  1. Written by Dwasifar
    on July 30, 2015 at 22:01

    Many years ago I worked at a photo counter, and some woman came in with a roll of pictures of her baby that were just the ugliest child any of us had ever seen. When she came to pick up the photos, she riffed through them right there at the counter, and suddenly stuck one in my face, exclaiming, “Isn’t she the CUTEST you’ve ever seen?” I was struck dumb, and couldn’t think of a thing to say. She was quite insulted.

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