Cutest baby contest. Really?

Cutest baby contest. Really?

Recently, one of my friends on Facebook sent me a message. It contained a picture of her daughter and below it was the caption - “Cutest baby contest. Please vote for my baby." This was not the first time. I had received such requests a couple of times earlier as well from some other friends. I even remembered that there was a similar message on WhatsApp. I had ignored it earlier, but now, because it was the 5th time, it triggered my curiosity and I clicked on the link.

A website opened, which contained the list and photographs of around 50 other small children. Each one was numbered and there was a “Vote” button at the bottom of each picture. So far so good. I went through the other children’s photographs, and I was surprised to see these children were less than five years of age. Almost all of them were made to wear some hideous flashy costumes and it seemed that they were trained exquisitely in how to smile in front of the camera.  Not to mention that, along with these photographs, there were numerous adds and pop ups from various baby brands and sponsors claiming how all the babies in the contest are using their products for the sweet smiles they are showcasing.

I was aghast. What seemed like an honest platform for sharing innocent, smiling baby pictures now seemed like an attempt by their parents and the organisers to garner publicity. That made me really worried. What are we teaching our kids? Our innocent and sweet little babies, who don’t even know what a competition means, are being pushed into believing that your looks matter the most. I am sure most of the kids don’t even know what a photograph is and what a competition is because some of the pictures entered in the competition were as young as one year.

So this brings us to their parents. What do these parents want to prove? That their baby is most beautiful? Come on! The physical appearance of the baby, however it might be, is nature’s gift. Who has the right to say that baby “A” is better looking than baby “B”? All of them are bright, pure and wonderful. So what do we achieve from this unnecessary competition?

There are also some rounds in the competition where some selected children are taken to a venue “appropriately dressed” to pose in front of the camera. So aren’t we putting children who do understand this entire process into some sort of virtual reality? Do we think about the psychological consequences this can lead to? The attention, publicity and praise may corrupt their minds, we never know. If these children don’t get the same attention in future, can they cope up with it?

There might be some websites that are genuinely good. There might be some parents who don’t think of such serious consequences but enter just out of curiosity. But before carelessly sending the entries, nobody thinks of the commercial aspects of these contests. Do these organisers really care who the cutest baby is? For them, its just a platform to bring together top baby care brands and provide them a huge customer base. The brands then play with the parent mentality and make for a great sale. In the bargain, the organisers get a percentage of their profit. It is just like an arts and crafts mela, where the highest profit is made by the food stalls and the genuine artists go empty-handed. How does it matter if small innocent kids’ mentality is exploited and the “bhole bhale” parents are made a part of this money circus?

I have nothing personal against parents entering their babies in the contest. But I would plead them - please don’t do this to your babies. As for me, I have decided, next time if somebody asks me to vote for their baby, I will tell them your baby is really beautiful. But sorry, I will not vote.