Before I begin, I would like to say that the title of this blog has absolutely nothing to do with the awesome movie which is also called The Ugly Truth. Yes, that movie had some ugly truths in it (Katherine Heigl wasn’t one of them) and some happily dysfunctional relationships, but that’s a different kind of truth and ugliness. This is real life. This is truth. This is ugly.
Social norms don’t always make sense to me and it’s usually hit-or-miss if I actually pick up on them or not. More often miss than hit. That being said, I will question a social norm and common phrase that follows it in this blog. I’ll burn some bridges, mend fences, and most likely eat ice cream.
Here’s the scenario:
Your happily married friends have a baby. They invite you to the hospital to see this little bundle o’joy, and you say what everyone else says when they first see a newborn baby, “Aww! Little Edgar is soooooo cute! He’s so adorable! Blah blah baby-related compliments blah blah.” And of course, your friends respond with the typical thank-yous and then resume staring lovingly at the baby.
But something isn’t right here. You just lied to your best friends, and you know it. You gasp in horror at what you just realized.
Little Edgar isn’t cute.
Little Edgar is an ugly baby.
Not just an unpleasant-to-look-at baby, but a Benjamin Button type of ugly.
What do you do now? You suddenly notice your friends are staring at you, worried about what you’re thinking. You say the only phrase a person can say at a time like this: “Aww, bless his little heart…”
Yes, you just said that. And neither you, nor your friends know what it means. But you said it and it seems to have appeased their worried stares.
[Note: If you’re under 26 years old, you would probably say “aww, he’s so sweet” instead. The same applies to both phrases though.]
Yes, this is a true story. Everyone does it at some point in their life, it’s inevitable. Which means two things: 1) There are such things as ugly babies. 2) No one knows what that darn “bless their heart/he’s so sweet” phrase means. That’s the truth, the blunt and ugly truth.
Now, before you go all angry and hormonal-new-mother on me, think for a second. I’m right. There are such things as ugly babies. Oh yes, and it’s probably that baby you just thought of. Fine, some infants just look weird because they’re new and whatnot. But what about when they’re 1, 2, 3, or 10 years old? There is such a thing as ugly toddlers and ugly kids. It’s not their personality being ugly, it’s them. They can’t help it, they’re just not as aesthetically pleasing as other ones.
Right, it’s not their fault for they’re un-adorable, but that isn’t a good reason to ignore the truth. Ugliness isn’t something that sneaks up and surprises someone when they’re in their 20’s, it’s something they’re [usually] born with. That’s not including bad taste in clothing and poorly done hair/makeup or traumatic injuries and whatnot. Those don’t count. The point is, there is such a thing as an ugly baby.
Phew, I said it. I broke a social norm. Now I’m probably going to get beaten by disgruntled parents or something. But only by the ones who have ugly babies; parents with cute kids would agree with me.
Next, that “bless their heart” phrase.
What does that phrase even mean? No one knows! I Googled it, and do you know what Google said? It said, “no definition found.” Ok, it had definitions, but they weren’t clear and didn’t provide any actual answer. Not even Google knows what it means! All we know is it’s something someone says when they want to sound supportive and caring but feel the exact opposite. It’s a socially obligated oh-crap, what-do-I-say-now? phrase. Plain and simple.
A toddler throws a tantrum in Chick-fil-a, what does everyone say? “Aww, bless his heart.”
Why would someone say that? What they need to say is, “Dang lady, you should do better at parenting. He’s going to grow up and be a meth dealer or something if you keep this up.” Yes, she might perceive it as you being rude. But remember, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. So, theoretically, if you say it nice and cheery it won’t be offensive, right?
I see it all the time, especially when parents talk about their halflings. The parent tells a story about something “funny” their kid said or did, which really just proves how sucky their parenting skills are, and the response they get is awkward laughter and a “bless his heart” or a “he’s so sweet…” I don’t understand it, but I also don’t pick up on social norms and stuff like I should. One time I told someone they had poor parenting skills and that their kid was a terror. Apparently I shouldn’t have said it, the kid screamed at me and told me to “shut it”, and then continued to tell his father what to do. No, sir, that is not a “phase”. Phases don’t last that long. That’s just poor parenting. But bless his heart… His intentions are sweet…
Social norms are weird, some babies are just flat out ugly, and some parents suck at being parents. That’s the ugly truth.
However, there is good news: ugly babies make cute babies look even more cute! It’s all about contrast and comparison. It reminds me of Sherlock’s best man speech in season 3 of Sherlock. You have to have ugly somewhere to really be able to see the attractive things.
Next time I’ll answer a question posed by Trainer Jarrod: How can two really ugly people make a really cute baby? He’s completely baffled by this. I’ll probably have to break out the dry erase board and anatomy book…and probably season 5 of Grey’s Anatomy. This will be weird.
On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t put that discussion on the internet.
Well…and that’s that. Bless your heart. (You know who you are.)