A friend and I have been having a cuteness battle on Facebook recently.
It all started with the adorable above.
Then I counter-posted this beauty on her wall, to which she replied, “That’s awful. I thought it was just a puffy mom, but look at the two babies!”
We both love animals.
A lot. We watch Nature specials and share links to videos of penguins laughing while being tickled and are secretly addicted to Cute Overload.
I became curious. I have always loved that in Spanish and select other languages, there are words for this—for what I call “an aggressive reaction to cuteness.”
For instance, in Tagalog:
trembling or gritting of the teeth in response to a situation that overwhelms your self-control.
When a Filipina sees a baby that’s so cute, she gets so overwhelmed that she wants to pinch the baby’s cheeks and has a hard time controlling herself. What she’s experiencing is called “panggigigil.”
This is an ongoing exploration—mostly light-hearted and well-meaning between myself and a lot of my female friends. Roommates and I came to greet one another with “I am going to throw you out the window now,” meaning: “You are super cute right now.” We joke about punching one another, about not being able to stand how cute the other one looks. It’s fun, and an entertaining way to express our affection for each other.
However, cuteness has a dark side.
When I began to write this, I wondered if perhaps some animals are more likely to be saved from extinction because of their adorableness. However, it turns out that being adored can actually endanger animals, as I am sure some of you will not be surprised to know.
There have been amazing writings lately on elephant about femininity—I encourage you to read them all. I have always sensed that being “feminine” (cute) can be a risk for women. Being seen as cute, inspiring such aggressive—and in some cases, non-benign aggression—is not a beneficial thing, especially when the “cute” is code for “sexy,” as in the case of this dental assistant.
I think we suppose that cuteness offers a special immunity.
But it doesn’t.
It’s important to pay attention to what we cherish, whether it is in the form of what we look at on the internet in order to alleviate a shitty day, or the beauty of beings we admire in our lives in person. Animals. People. Nature.
Yes, National Parks are being saved. Their funding is also constantly being cut.
Cherish and honor, protect what makes you go “Squee!”
Don’t just share it.
Help it to survive—through advocacy and financial support—so the future generations can squee right along.
Like Animal Rights on Facebook.
Ed: Brianna Bemel