twenty sixth July two thousand eleven


During my efforts to entertain myself at the airport with some ‘light’ reading, I discovered that, apparently, the option to ‘design’ your baby will be a reality of the not too distant future (according to an article titled ‘How to make the perfect baby’ in a recent issue of STYLIST magazine). If gene therapy delivers its expected potential, not only will we be able to protect our kids from ‘freckle fart’ torments in primary school by eliminating undesirable traits our baby may inherit, but we’ll also be able to indulge in the ultimate shopping experience – choosing our baby’s features and characteristics like eye colour, intelligence, athletic ability and personality. 

Now, usually, I’m a fan of anything that involves the task of ‘shopping’, but at the risk of sounding old-fashioned, I must admit I’m horrified at the thought of the whole concept. The argument for creating your ideal offspring is pretty obvious: the harsh reality is that studies have shown looks do affect one’s success, and it’s a natural instinct to want our children to succeed and survive. Parents should want the best for their children and this seems like the obvious way of ensuring this, right? 

But if designing the perfect child becomes that easy, won’t every kid be getting around with Shiloh Jolie-Pitt’s pout or Justin Bieber’s looks and performance abilities? Will celebrating our individuality no longer be important? Learning to accept the things we don’t like about ourselves is a difficult, yet humbling lesson in life, which makes me wonder, if you’re born perfect, what effect would this have on your personality?  And as a parent, would it still feel like your child if you designed it to have green eyes, black hair and an olive complexion when you’re regularly told by your friends and family that you could be Nicole Kidman’s stunt double, and your partner resembles Julian Assange? 

I’m intrigued… Do you think designing babies is taking the pursuit for perfection too far?