So today I took my daughter to a modeling agency.
In exchange for a can of dried milk for the orphans (or for their coffee, who knows) they took some test shots of her and told me they would get back to me within five days.
Yes, I’m probably feeling unfulfilled in my own life. No, I’m not going to start entering her into beauty pageants.
I don’t even know if the agency is a good one. They had a nice website and it is near where we live. I just thought it would be something fun to do together, me being a stage mother and her being tortured to look happy. And of course, she is the most beautiful little girl in the world. Why waste that on photos that are only sent out to family or posted on Facebook. Like many Brazilians, I believe that the next little Giselle is sitting in my living rooms watching cartoons. (Only they are wrong and I am right.)
I do recognize the danger in this. There is a debilitating parental disease out that some of you may not be aware of. Though some of you are. You know, when your friend brings their 2-year-old over to your house dressed up like a sailor and your dog won’t stop barking at him. It’s called the Beautiful Baby Syndrome.
One day, when I was a young adult, my parents admitted that, when I was a baby, they entered my photo into the Chicago Tribune’s Beautiful Baby Contest. They waited and waited. My photo never appeared in the paper. They called the paper to make sure the editor received it. They again took to waiting. My Beautiful Baby picture was never published. They were devastated. Obviously, a conspiracy was in play there.
I asked to see the photo. My mother pulled a cardboard box down from a closet shelf. She dug through the box and finally handed me the picture.
It was a portrait of what could have been a lizard in a yellow dress.
Sure, over the course of time my face filled out and my hair grew in so that I look much less reptilian, even pretty. But my parents had been struck with this disability, so thoroughly that they went public with their attempts to prove I was gorgeous.
Fast forward fifteen years. My husband and I created birth announcement cards for my daughter. We scoured through photos of our beautiful infant and finally selected what we believed was the most stunning. We had the cards printed and send out to all of the family members and friends we could think of. Co-workers even.
Fast forward another two years. I’m sorting through old files and come across one labeled “Sophia cards,” because, of course, the birth announcement was only the first of many photo cards. I pulled out that birth announcement that we spread across continents a mere weeks after she was born.
On the cover was what could have been a 90-year-old, naked Chinese man.
Yes, the chemical effects of the Beautiful Baby Syndrome do wear off after a couple years, only to be replaced with new convincing images. And you are left to wonder, is my child as ridiculously attractive as I think he/she is? Or is it just some evolutionary, biological, chemical reaction designed to stop me from killing him/her when he/she wakes me up in the middle of the night, every night for months.
Maybe the modeling agency thing is simply my burning desire to prove to myself that what I am seeing is logical, by having a third party confirm it.
In the end, does it really matter? Of course not. I would love her no matter what she looks like. But deep, deep down inside, don’t most of us have that need for the rest of the world to stand up and take notice of how inhumanly lovely our offspring is?
Or perhaps that’s only me.
Regardless, I guess we’ll see what happens in five days.