Does remaining silent mean I am somehow complicit? Does speaking up mean I am judging? I don’t know. I’m just tired of normalizing trends that take what is inherently beautiful, and twist it into something else entirely.
Today I came across a Facebook post by a start up company I follow who makes custom leather boots. Their new post is marketing baby boots, because “you are never too young to rock your first pair…” And as I looked at the photograph of a tiny baby, dressed in a skull and crossbones diaper, with a pair of black leather high tops, a lumberjack plaid neck fleece, and laying on a bold graphic blanket, I was saddened. Why? Because I saw the potential for awe squelched by an all too common human desire for projection of image.
The baby in the photograph with bared belly and umbilical cord still healing, was only a couple of weeks old. Surely the parents of this beautiful new human were still in the process of adjusting and welcoming and healing themselves. Surely they were still sharing birth stories with their closest friends, describing the difference of before and after, the shock of their wide eyed and brand new unconditional love. Surely they were wearing out their phones taking photos, planning futures and parties and surely, somewhere in all that, they were struck by the miracle of what just happened…and the wonder and innocence of this creature now entrusted into their hands. Surely they see the helpless purity of the creature that is a blending of their DNA and the outcome of months of waiting. Surely…
But somehow, somewhere, in this particular ad campaign, and in society in general, I sense that the function of keeping children warm and dry has run amok and become a commercialized train wreck. And we’ve seen this, haven’t we? Little boys in gangsta wear, and little girls in belly tops. But babies? I fear we are now in the business of transforming our precious newborns into our own image, into our own idea of what is hip and cool and trendy, rather than resting for just a little while, in the unadorned, unseasoned, raw versions of who they are…from the very beginning.
And perhaps facebook posts and instagrams and the incessant need to show off images of our most personal and intimate treasures, including our newborns, perhaps our overwhelming desire to (over)share the visual, is causing us to lose sight of what matters most, what happens when we are off camera and naked and fully ourselves.
Today you can find niche fashion sites that allow you to outfit your baby boy in biker gear or tattoo sleeves, or your baby girl in slutty slogan onesies. You can find skull and crossbone slippers, diapers, and pretty much anything else in most mainstream outlets. And while how we dress our children is absolutely a personal matter of taste, and has been effected by cultural and social norms through the centuries, I just want to say I am sad about what is happening in 2015. And maybe it doesn’t matter to you, maybe this is far too serious a consideration when buying baby clothes, because they are just so cute and fun and everybody else is rocking them too. But maybe you find a hint of truth in what I’m suggesting. I wonder why we are so easily convinced of what is normal and acceptable. I wonder…
All I know is this. I am not willing to trade in my sense of awe at the warm curl of a newborn’s fingers around mine, or the poignant sight of first hair worn thin on the backs of tiny heads, or the way it feels to breathe her smell straight out of the bath, all wet and shiny and bright, or hear his first musical cooing. I will hang onto it tight, and I will celebrate the sweet innocence of new beginnings. And I will not tarnish my experience of the miracle or the glory I see in each brand new life, by bowing to clothes or accessories that suggest otherwise.