Beautiful Bias

by | Mar 2, 2012 | Little Observations, Little Parenting | 16 comments

Sucks to be youBrad Pitt and his brother, Doug. So alike…but not.

Hold the hate mail but I'm about to make a confession that some of you might find deeply unpalatable.

One of my kids is better looking than the other.

Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And as their mother, I consider both my children to be some of God's finest work. Of course I do.

But there is such a thing as a conventional beauty, certain hallmarks of a face that are considered universally attractive (large, wide-set eyes, for example).

Some people don't dig conventional beauty at all. Me, I can spot and appreciate a conventional beauty easily but am also wildly attracted to people who don't necessarily fit the mould, who are more 'quirky'.

And one of my kids fits the conventional mould more than the other.

But why even mention it?

Good question. It shouldn't matter. But the world my children will encounter is a place where it does matter and can affect their lives in subtle and not so subtle ways.

Interestingly, parents are never so reticent to admit that one of their children might be academic where another is not.

For the record, I would never tell my children that they were less attractive or less smart. But I think as their mother, I should be aware of their strengths and also the things that could possibly hurt them.

I have never understood those parents who really don't see their kids. Or as the case may be, hear them. How many parents have we seen interviewed on Idol who listen to their kid butchering some Celine Dion number and then bay for blood when the judges fail to acknowledge "their amazing talent and obvious star quality"?

This may sound harsh but if my kid wanted to audition for a singing competition and I knew they could better hold a slippery fish than hold a note, I would encourage them in another direction. I just would. Dreams should be encouraged but not at the expense of the truth. Fostering delusion is not good parenting, is it?

I love my kids ferociously and with no small amount of bias, I'm sure, but it hasn't rendered my brain impaired.

In fact, I am acutely aware of who my kids are. I store away this information not for the purpose of judgement or critique but so that I can best guide them through the obstacles ahead.

If this all seems shallow and ridiculous, I agree, it is. And I am aware that even by discussing it, I am probably perpetuating the beauty myth. But denying the reality of the society our children will navigate makes very little sense either. There is no such thing as a level playing field.

And then there are just my feelings about the whole thing. One of my children receives more comments about his looks than the other. As their mum, that makes me feel defensive! And even more determined to maximise their individual beauty (inside and out) so that the face they present to the world (bloody gorgeous faces, convention be damned!) is one that radiates confidence and joy in who they are.

And whenever I start fretting about whether they'll both do alright with 'the ladies' (yes, I know, it's crazy but have you never done it?), I comfort myself with the fact that while Wills may be more conventionally handsome, it's Prince Harry who makes the girls want to tear off their knickers…


Hello friends


I’m Angie!  I mum. I write. I wife. My husband would say this is the correct order.  He’s so neeeedy. I live with my family in Melbourne, Australia, where I complain about the weather for 90% of the year – but I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Except maybe in Lake Como, waving to my neighbours George and Amal each morning.

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  1. MJ

    I getcha – and if anyone bothers to chime in with negative rants to you, they’re not being honest with themselves.

    It’s something I’ve thought about too, in the context of “Gee, I really hope one of them doesn’t feel like they’re the less attractive one”… because I’m pretty sure that if you ask any pair of sisters, one (or both) of them will feel they got short-changed in the looks department – whether or not that’s even true.

    Yet another thing to fret about, right?

  2. Genevieve Peden

    I totally agree. My 2 kids are chalk and cheese and special in their own way. My son is/will be an academic and some days I think he will be one of those book smart people that lack street smarts (I usually call them uni smarts lol) so I try and nurture his smarts but also try to make sure he will grow up with some street smarts. Where my daughter is smart but no where near the level my son is. She wont be an academic but she will be an artsy farsty dancey performer type person I believe.
    I too also wonder how parents can let their kids try out for those talent shows when they clearly are not very good at all.
    It is my mission as a mother to make sure my kids grow up grounded and comfortable in the skin they are in.

  3. melbo

    Angie, I think one thing that might change (note I said “might”) when your girl arrives is that the focus of others will shift straight away to her tiny feminine features and the boys won’t be getting so many of those “Isn’t he pretty?” comments.

    Now this should not be taken to mean that the boys will be suddenly less pretty but it will give them the chance to be appreciated for their other noble attributes and that has to be a good thing!

  4. Ruthy

    My 11 year old wanted to run for student council. He is beautiful, intelligent, sensitive but not ‘popular’ in the school kid sense of the word. He wrote the most awesome speech on his own….it was truly politician worthy. You and I know that student council is more about popularity than who would do the best job but how do you say to your child “You might not be popular enough”. Somewhere within me I knew he wouldn’t get voted in but how do I stop him from taking this amazing piece of work and going for it. I couldn’t and he failed and he cried and I cuddled him and consoled him and told him how proud I was of him. And you know…I reckon he’ll try again next year cause that’s the sort of kid he is 🙂 As a parent you can’t stop your kids from aiming for their dreams but you can be there to put them back together if they luck out….that’s what parenting is about.

  5. bcimommy

    I agree completely with you! All 3 of my children are beautiful. But in completely different ways. I have two that are “Gap Kids” beautiful. And I have one that is an “elf king” a la Lord of the Rings beautiful. The two that should model get a lot more attention from people but my little elf is the sweetest child on the planet.

    I can be realistic about my kids and I too worry about how they are going to do with the opposite sex. I’m glad I’m not the only one. LOL

  6. Jess

    My sister and I are a bit like Brad & his bro. We look so similar but she got the killer body and just more defined, classical looks like a button nose and beautiful big eyes. I am just heaps nicer & smarter and I’m ok with that 😉 hehe!

  7. Kylie

    Rofl at the prince comment!!!

  8. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Well, Jess, that’s an awesome attitude and I want to help develop pride and acceptance in all my kids, regardless of what their talents are or what they look like.

    And yes, beauty is not always good for the personality, is it? The world treats conventionally beautiful people differently and it can lead to jerks who have entitlement issues.

  9. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thanks for identifying! I appreciate it.

    I think both my children are exquisite creatures (as I am sure the third will be, too!) but the world is not a mother’s unconditional love, is it?

  10. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Oh Ruthy, that breaks my heart!

    But you know, it’s a bit different to the Idol parents. Your little fella WOULD be excellent on the student council but, and this goes back to my original point of perceived beauty and the popularity that often goes with it, he doesn’t get the chance. I would still encourage him because school is no indicator of whether he might be a kick arse politician some day!

    However, watching on as your child learns resilience is not fun.

    Hugs. xxx

  11. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Good point. I hope so, Mel.

    Although the pretty child sure knows he’s pretty and sure loves it!

  12. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    “It is my mission as a mother to make sure my kids grow up grounded and comfortable in the skin they are in.”

    Amen to that. But my goodness, I’m not sure if it will be easy.

    I love watching how my children are developing and who they are becoming and don’t want to interfere but it certainly helps to be aware of strengths and weaknesses to help guide their way.

  13. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Always with the fretting, MJ. Always with the fretting.

    I definitely think it would be harder with sisters. Boys can be a lot of things – pretty boy, sporty, edgy, quirky etc. but girls seem to have such a narrow range of acceptable ‘looks.’

    And yes, there is the whole thing of perception and siblings are bound to compare themeselves, aren’t they?

    Fret, fret, fret!

  14. Natalie @MamaTrack

    I worried so much about this before my second was born. I wasn’t sure how I would handle it if that baby weren’t up to my first’s standards, in every way. And then when the baby arrived, she was a different gender, which solved all my problems.

    But yes, I get your concerns. And Harry is doing great.

  15. Galit Breen

    What I love most about this post is your willingness to talk about this! We have to open our eyes and be willing to at least acknowledge and discuss this world and how it’ll interact with our littles.

    (I adore you, you’re always palatable to me!)



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