I study my baby as he drifts off to sleep. He has a smattering of small pimples around his sweet mouth - the result, I'm sure, of drool and spit up trapped beneath a pacifier. There is a a blemish of some sort in the fold of his soft neck - probably the result of more trapped milk. His adorable head is lumpy in some spots and flat in others. The dark fuzz that was born on his ears has rubbed off, but the small patch of hair in the small of his back is still hanging on. His thighs are deliciously fat.
He is perfect, of course; his "flaws," if they can even be labeled as such, are every bit as beautiful as his long eye lashes, toothless grin, and mellow disposition.
He sighs contentedly in his sleep, blissfully unaware of even the concept of physical beauty, let alone the impact it will have on his life. I pause for a moment to savor the moment. It will be fleeting, I know. In just a few short years, he'll worry that the color of his eyes are wrong, or his nose is too flat, or his ears are crooked. The pimples will become embarrassing; the hair patch a locker room taunt. Like all of us, he will become overly critical of some physical attribute he deems flawed. And for a moment - and hopefully only a moment - he'll wonder if the relative attractiveness of his visage defines him, and he'll begin to hide the less desirable bits of himself from the world's judgmental gaze. (And even with all this, he'll get off easy in the beauty race because he's a he.)
But for now, beauty to him is a lactating breast, a good swaddle, a powerful belch, a clean diaper; things that actually matter. And that is a beautiful thing.
I've shared this video before via Facebook, but I think it's worth a repeat.