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At the Opening Ceremonies, talent isn’t enough anymore

The opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics dazzled the globe. And what a moment when that little Chinese girl serenaded the flag. ?In terms of voice, Yang Peiyi is perfect,? gushed musical director, Chen Qigang.

But she wasn?t so perfect in other ways. Her chubby face and buck teeth kept her from the spotlight. Seven-year old Yang Peiyi wasn?t allowed on stage after the chief Communist Party politburo decided she wasn?t cute enough. ?The reason why little Yang was not chosen to appear was because we wanted to project the right image, we were thinking about what was best for the nation,? said Chen.

So 9-year old Lin Miaoke got the chance to capture the affection of millions as she appeared to perform the patriotic song. Of course she didn?t sing a word; she was only moving her lips to Yang?s recorded voice.

It?s all about the image. ?The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feelings, and expression,? said director Chen in defense of the decision. If he sounds like a communist hack?you?re only partly right. Chen is a French citizen.

So this was all for the best when it comes to the motherland. But what about what?s best for the 7-year old? She was, supposedly, proud of her contribution to the Olympics. (But what else could she say?) Her talent was enough to impress the world, but what she learned is that her government isn?t proud of her talent, at least not enough to put her on display for the world. She learned that someone else more beautiful will come along and get credit for her ability.

I can see why they wanted to put Lin on stage. She?s a doll. And of course, most of the time these days, performers are expected to be attractive. That?s just the way it is. At least in Hollywood. And while I have plenty to say about the politics here, let?s get back to our kids.

You see, I think we do the same thing in America every day on the playground. The cutest babies get the most smiles and tickles. They get the most attention in school.

How many of us adults grew up insecure about something in our appearance? Probably most of us. We were certain that this particular feature was going to keep us from getting the boyfriend we wanted?or even keep us from happiness.

And on the other hand, plenty of pretty girls start examining themselves in middle school, wondering why things aren?t going as well as they used to. They see their image in the mirror?the one that used to be good enough?and can?t figure out why it?s not enough anymore.

No, it?s not just China that coddles the beautiful. We need to start showering all of our children with affection because they are beautiful people created with love. They have value because they exist.

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