Category Archives: Cute Things


Beatrice Marovich, a writer and academic ( presents the topic of cuteness in relation to animals in her essay in The Atlantic (Moravich) to propose a perspective on how humans have given “cuteness” to an animal and how the cute animal in return serves the human. In her essay, Maravich, provides the example of the cuteness of cats. Cats have been deemed cute by humans and also by humans through created figures such as Hello Kitty. The essay also provides an insight of how these cats have gained their “cuteness” by history. Because of cats becoming saviors to silk economics in the 17th century in Japan (by eliminating the cats that ate the silk worms that made silk), cats became a good luck charm. In the case of Hello Kitty, Marovich suggests that it’s vacant look gives humans the opportunity to fill that vacancy with themselves through the cuteness of the expressionless Kitty. A very interesting point that Marovich ties in toward the end of her essay is how cats, who have been deemed cute, have become something that people pay for, just to spend time with them. Unfortunately, Marovich doesn’t delve into the psychological questions about this but the skeptical observant question that lingers is: What does this endowment of cuteness do or affect?

Something that pop’s out in Marovich’s essay is the word vacancy. The eyes of the cute cat seem vacant and almost beckoning for someone to live through it. When something is “cute” it is: appealing, mentally keen, attractive ( The opposite of “cute” is”: ugly, unhappy, unpleasant ( This suggests that something “cute” is something that makes one feel better or seems to beckon one in a strange but delightful manner. For example, carrying around a small dog that matches one’s outfit is cute, because it makes the human feel that the cute little animal needs them and they empower the animal with the “pop” that their outfit or person needs. The most interesting part of cuteness is the way in which it works or the cycle which it forms.

When a human seems something “cute”, the human perceives that “thing” as an object that needs something, it contains a void that can potentially be filled — attention and care from the human. Giving this “cute little thing” that attention makes the human feel wanted or needed and/or giving, generous, compassionate, human, loving, etc. In return, the “cute little thing” provides the human credit for what they’ve done, and provides the human satisfactions in one or a variety of areas. These areas might encompass a human’s character, fashion style, compassion, “religiousness” or anything in relation to the expression of that human. As this occurs the “cute little thing” is given power, a power to enhance (or un-enhance) a human’s identity in one way or another. Although this “cute little thing” is bestowed power, the “cute little thing” becomes objectified (even if it is a living thing). When something becomes objectified it can be made, it is not one of a kind, it can be replaced; thus, a cute little accessory Chihuahua dog can be replaced by a cute little Affenpinscher at any given moment. Through these examples, Marovich clearly explains a perspective on cuteness and how it tends to objectify which is only scratches the surface of that definition.


Works Cited

“About – Beatrice Marovich.” Beatrice Marovich. Web. 5 Sept. 2014. <>.

Marovich, Beatrice. “The Powerful Authority of Cute Animals.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 14 May 2014. Web. 5 Sept. 2014.

“cuteness.” The Dictionary of American Slang. 05 Sep. 2014. <>.

“cute.” Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition. Philip Lief Group 2009. 05 Sep. 2014. <>.



The science of cuteness

When first analyzing Marovich’s article, I found her introduction to the idea of “cuteness” to be interesting, but oddly vague. But there was one aspect of it that stuck out rather clearly: the beckoning cat, and its “magical” properties to draw people in and create good fortune. But what was this magic? How do I find its origin? To help in my comprehension of the topic, I began by doing a Google image search of just the word “cute” to see if I could find any patterns. Lo-and-behold, there was in fact a pattern, things that I have observed my entire life, yet never managed to connect the dots to: puppies at play, kittens in tea cups, babies looking perfectly innocent with wide eyed stares, but it obviously has to go deeper than that; There’s got to be more to this that I’m missing.

Because I found Marovich’s article to be rather surface level, I instead chose to take a look into her sources, which revealed a great deal of factual information that explains our powerful relationships with all things categorized as “cute”. Hiroshi Nittono’s article “The Power of Kawaii” summed up the phenomenon as so: “Cute objects are assumed to be characterized by baby schema. This is a set of features that are commonly seen in young animals: a large head relative to the body size, a high and protruding forehead, large eyes, and so forth.” He goes on to indicate that this baby schema creates a stimulus, which triggers many of our brain’s receptors, particularly those associated with attentiveness, motivation and care giving. The high level of rewarding stimuli we receive just from the observation of these objects is a compelling explanation of our “obsession” with them.

To drive this point home further,  Cara Santa Maria of the Huffington post breaks down the origins of this “power”. Evolutionary developments, pertaining to both human beings and other living creatures, are arguably the sole reason why “cute” properties are so valued our minds. As stated previously, we find certain animals (particularly young ones) to be cute because their physical characteristics stimulate our brains in the same way that human babies do. But why do we find these particular features so attractive? One likely answer may be that over time, a mutation in the genes of mothers predisposed them to be more protective and nurturing of the offspring that possessed what we now refer to as “cute” features. As a result, these children (who also were likely to possess the same genetic bias themselves) were much more likely to survive and reproduce, which over millions of years, slowly adapted our inherent reaction towards animals and objects with the same aesthetics. For example, a young, docile appearance can explain why we bred and domesticated certain types of animals, as opposed to others. Additionally, these patterns explain why we describe these qualities magnetic and “magical”. In all actuality, the talismanic properties of the beckoning cat are merely a façade: they lure us in because we are genetically predisposed to see them as such, and the “good fortune” they bring stems from the fact that their appearance naturally causes us to feel more motivated and rewarded.

So we have an understanding of the science of cuteness, but this still leaves the question of why exactly do humans often treat these living, breathing creatures with the same level of possession and personal association that they would any other object? To find the answer, I returned to Belk’s essay “Possessions & the extended self”. Perhaps, most obviously, there is the notion that we see these creatures as objects because a person may see himself or herself as the amalgamation of everything they have or possess. Spouses, Children, Slaves are all examples of ways in which man has found a sense of possession towards those in his own species, so it seems only natural that similar attitudes be held over other living creatures. This becomes more elaborate as Belk suggests that we see our pets at extensions of ourselves, both in terms of personality and viewing treatment of a pet as a reflection of the opinion of the self. As the creation of “cute” objects became more and more apparent, it would seem only natural that they would be crafted to allow us to input ourselves into them as well. This can explain why some of the most famous faces in popular culture (Hello Kitty,  Pikachu, Snoopy, etc.) are all examples of characters in that possess cute qualities, but yet are seemingly voiceless. This internal vacancy allows us to project ourselves into the character, adding in yet another layer to the complex science of cuteness.


Blog Post Two: Conscription

Marovich brings up a point with Chihuahuas and how they are conscripted despite their personalities contradicting the willingness to subscribe to wearing accessories comfortably. I agree with Marovich in that people do regard pets as talismans; and that helped me come to a different conclusion. There’s something about people that causes them to need something to become more than what it is originally. Items, or things regarded as such, possess Appeal. Of course, every individual has different preferences and different reason supporting those preferences, but most people conscript their things after a while. Marovich introduced the word “conscription” to me, which reminded me of the tongue. The average person’s taste-buds alter gradually over the course of seven years. Similar to taste-buds, people’s preferences evolve also. Though, unlike taste-buds, objects cost. Therefore, when peoples’ preferences alter, which aren’t altering by much, the item is either modified, used in a way it wasn’t originally designed to be used, or put up, even if they serve a useful purpose. People need change.

Blog Post #2: Cute Things

What makes one thing cute and another grotesque or uncanny? Some of the authors we have read so far suggest objects have inherent properties that make them “open” or “closed,” (Prown) or “masculine” or “feminine” (Czikszentmihalyi). Can something be inherently cute, or is cuteness a property cultures or individuals project onto objects? Beatrice Marovich poses these and other related questions in her essay on “The Powerful Authority of Cute Animals”:

[S]ites like BuzzFeed Animals remind us, daily, of the powerful authority of cute animals, who do cute things that make us stop everything and just look. Researchers are already trying to unlock the enigmatic secrets of this “Power of Kawaii” (Japanese for “cute”). It appears to hold valuable treasures—such as the ability to turn humans (who look at pictures of cute animals) into more productive workers. There are interesting questions to pursue here: what is this “power”, in the first place? Where does it come from? Why does it work? But I won’t pursue them now. Instead, I want to suggest that there’s something in this alleged power that seems to leave animals vulnerable to becoming talismanic. Continue reading Blog Post #2: Cute Things