Kylie Jenner, 20 year-old member of the Kardashian family, posted a picture of her newborn daughter on Instagram and the “picture has been liked over 11 million times in just a few hours – making it one of Instagram’s most popular posts ever.” At the time of writing it has 13.7 million likes.
I read that on the BBC today and it stopped me in my mindless scrolling to consider that: Instagram is a huge photo sharing app, a titan among the greats of social media. At least 80 million photos are uploaded every day. It has 400 million active members a month. And putting aside the popularity of the Kardashians themselves, which I am not here to debate, for one small moment it struck me that this little baby made the cut to, currently, the most liked Instagram photo of all time.
Take a look at this list! By its nature it will be ever-changing, and we all know that the sources of Wikipedia can be disputed, but don’t you think it is interesting that as of February 2018, six out of the top ten most liked Instagram photos are all to do with baby announcements?
The particular picture itself is beautiful in its simplicity. It took me straight back to all the awesome – in the true sense of the word – moments I’ve held sleeping newborn babies in my arms and felt their peace. But the fact that it is not a car, or a sexualised image of a woman – or man – or a makeup haul, or a sports moment, or even a priceless work of art that made it to the most liked image – but a baby – made me think. Something then, in our society, recognizes that a baby is good. Really good. That new life is amazing, and worth more than looks, status, money, power or sporting prowess.
Stick with me. I know it seems obvious right? Of course we all know a baby is good. We all know that new life is something to be celebrated. We all know that little children are precious. We don’t need Instagram statistics and a celebrity to tell us that!
Or do we? I think perhaps that actually we do. I think that actually, humanity has got to the point that it has forgotten its humanity. That we live in a society that on one hand celebrates Kylie Jenner’s beautiful baby, and on the other hand freely offers and advocates abortion and contraception as the solution to unwanted pregnancy.
What this is saying is that actually, babies are good, new life is good, children are precious, but only when they are wanted. Only when we deem them to be when we want them to be.
It’s a biological miracle that scientists must be scratching their heads over that a baby can one minute be a fully forming developing being in its own right when it is wanted, and merely a clump of cells that can be got rid of when it is not wanted.
Science cannot be manipulated like that. Not to fit whatever truth someone wants to hold. Truth doesn’t work like that either. Truth is truth is truth, in the same way that life = life = life.
I couldn’t help compare too the reaction to Kylie’s little baby on Instagram with the objections that poured out in the press, comment boxes and in regular conversations when the Duchess of Cambridge, aka Kate Middleton, announced her third child. The general understanding (if you cared enough about the British Royals to be following the story) was that one was expected, two were useful (the obligatory heir and a spare) but a third was just too much. A third?!
Or closer to home, a conversation with a dear friend who insinuated that my ever expanding family of beautiful nieces and nephews should, well… “calm down a bit.” I was too hurt and shocked to reply but wondered afterwards if I had preempted the comment by being rather non-committal (rather than excited) in the announcement to said friend, of another imminent arrival, in the fear of exactly that kind of response.
It is a dizzying world we live in when the first baby can be celebrated, but the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, heaven forbid any more! – are somehow less equal than the first. Last time I looked, that is exactly the kind of injustice the majority of our society, both online and offline, are looking to destroy.
Back to the point on abortion: I’m under no illusion that some women choose abortion because they feel they have no other option, that their circumstances are so dire that they cannot make any other choice. But why as a society do we offer (especially as though it were a right, an amazing freedom) abortion at all? Why can we not see that life, any life, arriving to woman at any age, social status, at any point in the family of already-been-borns, is just as much wanted, needed, necessary, as any other? If the resources – money, time, etc. – that were poured into abortion were channeled instead into childcare, nurseries, medical care, counseling, housing support, etc, we might find that life suddenly truly becomes a lot more equal and indeed, possible.
So, it’s good, wonderfully good, that Kylie Jenner’s daughter has stormed into the world with such aplomb, whatever you may think about social media, celebrities, and name choices. It reminds us that indeed, the world does welcome new life. But we need, and must tirelessly work toward, that welcome being more than just a ‘like’ deep.