A famous story in my family goes that after my Mum gave birth to me, my Dad took a look at me -- fresh out of the womb -- covered in that revolting goo, bright red and screaming, my little face screwed up and wrinkled, and remarked at the midwife 'God, it's an ugly little bugger, isn't it?'
She got the right hump and told him to shut up and flounced off. At the end of the day though, he was right. What's nice about a screaming, slime-covered newborn, with a slightly pointed head? I'd probably rather look at a kitten or something. Much cuter.
As a growing baby, that little pointed head expanded to the size of a small planet. Looking back over old photos, the recurring theme is me struggling to carry the weight of my cranium without snapping my tiny little baby-neck. My huge, adult-sized head was round and fleshy and probably quite cute, when I wasn't screaming or puking, but still, massive. Also, I had what my Mum would refer to as "strawberry blonde" wisps of hair (ginger) and she was adamant that if it didn't turn blonde or go dark, she was going to dye it.
Luckily, my massive football head ended up working out OK, and I ended up being quite a sweet toddler. Toddlers are always cuter than babies anyway because they can actually DO STUFF, rather than just lay there and fart, and they have actually little human-being personalities. From what I gather, as a toddler I was very squeaky and I really loved to (attempt to) read.
My parents now think I am wonderful and fantastic because I am, and I don't spend every waking hour projectile vomiting or crapping myself or crying. They have no problem telling me that newborn story, because HEY -- not all babies are cute. It's true. I've seen some real zingers. Some babies have a face that not even their own mother can love.
A survey by PromotionalCodes.org.uk reports that 1 in 5 new parents admit that they are privately disappointed with their child's looks. I think surely the real number must be higher. I fully expect to give birth to a 100% wonder baby, with THE BEST FACE you've ever seen that takes the best parts from both Chris and I and looking like it's been carved by an angel. Obviously, I'm going to be disappointed. I'm setting myself up for a fall here.
The interesting part for me was that only 8% of the respondents said that they'd ever spoken to anyone about the fears that their child had been bashed by the ugly stick. I am picturing all these parents, sitting at home, suffering in silence, desperately Google searching 'Will my baby get good looking?', shutting down Facebook so they don't feel the inevitable pressure to post photos of their offspring. But that's the thing -- is it OK to tell people you think your child is ugly?
All of the new parents I have ever met, seen or read about traditionally rave about their own baby's beauty, regardless of whether they are The World's Cutest Baby or in fact a bit of a horror show. Is that the built-in part of a parent, that feels the need to tell everyone that THEIR BABY IS THE BEST BABY EVER BORN, even if they are actually having a bit of a shit time and would quite like to swap it for a new telly? Or do they genuinely believe it?
One father surveyed said: "There is a lot of pressure on new parents in all kinds of ways and this is something that remains taboo and just isn't talked about. Everyone seems to think they have the most beautiful baby on earth and as a new parent you feel you have to say the same even if you privately believe your baby is ugly.
My daughter is three now and she is gorgeous but when she arrived she was the most disgusting little thing I'd ever seen. She had a face only a mother could love, but even my wife admitted she was ugly...It's just not something you ever feel you can admit to anyone else and you do get offended if anyone ever dares to suggest your baby isn't beautiful."
I asked my friends on Facebook and Twitter whether they'd ever admit to other people if they thought their baby looked like ET or worse. The overwhelming trend seemed to be that you can admit a baby is ugly, but NEVER when they are older -- although thankfully the general consensus is that babies can be ugly, but little children never are.
Obviously, loving your baby is different than thinking it's beautiful. I'm sure that all those parents out there who secretly know that they've got a "less aesthetically pleasing" baby still love them just as much as they would a pretty baby. It just seems that parents feel pressure to say their new baby is beautiful when in fact only 4/5 think it's true.
So tell me, were YOU an ugly baby? Or have you got one? Ever been revolted at the sight of a friend's newborn? Is it really obvious that this whole article is a way of trying to throw Chris off the scent that my ovaries clang every time I see a baby and I can't wait to get knocked up? Let's share!
This story is reprinted with permission from xoJane.com.