Cute is in the Eye of the Beholder
October 15th, 2014
Most people do not give thought or consideration to what is cute. Unnoticed by most people, is that cute is more than a one dimensional concept. A cuteness craze can occur at a zoo because of the first showing of a new baby animal on display. Unexpectedly, this can also happen with some selective other entities, that would have only made the ugly list, but unexpectedly they made the cute list instead. Even more complex is the way that different cultures use the cute factor. In the United States, the cute factor is used more as a tool for advertising, profit or personal gain. Countries such as Japan use the cute factor to soften masculinity and make people feel more comfortable with the authority figures in control of their daily lives. Cute can be identified as a positive, warm and fuzzy concept, the world over. That being said, cute is more recognized as a feeling then a concept. Human feelings are complex and fickle, so in turn so is the cute factor.
Cute is in the Eye of the Beholder:
Cute cannot be pigeon holed into one definition. Cute is not a one size fits all concept. What is considered cute is much more broad and complex. It is true that when a baby animal is born at a zoo a sort of hysteria ensues but ugly can also cause the same hysteria. It cannot be easily explained why something that would normally be considered ugly, such as a manatee, causes so many to feel that they are cute. Even more complex is the way that different cultures use the cute factor. Americans seem to use the cute factor, more often, for profit or personal gain, such as in advertising. While other countries such as Japan use the cute factor to wrap the culture in a warm and fuzzy blanket of calm. Something cute causes a warm and fuzzy feeling or experience. The constant is that cute is used in a positive way, but even those concepts are hit and miss. Advertisers use cute and whimsical characters, colorful images, or catchy slogans targeting the majority because it is impossible to reach everyone’s idea of what is cute. One can’t argue that when a baby animal is born that zoo ticket sales dramatically increase. Examples and evidence (Mauk & Metz 123p): In 2005 the Smithsonian’s Zoo’s panda gave birth to a cute and cuddly baby panda. The 13,000 free tickets were snatched up within a couple of hours only to be sold on eBay instantly for upwards of $200 a pair. It is easy see why people would want to be part of such a historically cute event. It is one thing to see something like this on TV or in pictures but to actually be there, to see it for ourselves is much more of a rewarding experience. To be present when the event happened makes one feel like they are part of the cuteness, therefore something greater then themselves. We are drawn to the cuteness experience despite having to pay top dollar, or even having to fight through huge crowds to get just a short glimpse of it. Researchers have found an ever growing list of what defines cute. Line of reasoning (Mauk & Metz 123p): “Bright forward facing eyes set low on a big round face, a pair of big round ears, floppy limbs and a side-to-side, teeter-totter gait, among many others” (Angair, N., 2006, p. 1, para. 10). Cute cannot be easily defined in black and white terms. Though, it is hard to resist hugging and aweing over a toddler that is unstable, with a teetering gait trying to walk for the first time. Researchers have formed a list of what they have found to be some of the top cute features, but this list is always changing and evolving, much like humans do naturally. The fact is, what is considered cute is set so low by people that almost anything will fit onto this list if the topic includes anything remotely infant from human to otherwise. So, the validity of the cuteness list is in question. It appears that what is...
References: Angier, N. (2006,January). The Cute Factor. The New York Times.
Mauk & Metz. (2013). Inventing Arguments Brief Third Edition (123p).
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