I Love This Heartwarming Video of a Mother Eating Her Child
Having a new baby is a truly surreal experience. You’re exhausted, out of your depth, and buried under more responsibility than you’ve ever had in your life. Being a new parent puts you through the wringer like few other things do.
And yet—the doughy little person now at the center of your universe is the most fascinating thing you’ve ever seen. Those squishy cheeks! Those microscopic toes! Every inch of that baby is absolutely delicious. In fact, researchers have found that the smell of babies activates the pleasure centers in the human brain, in much the same way as eating does when you’re hungry. No wonder we parents all want to gobble up our offspring.
Illustrator and cartoonist Angie Wang, who previously designed props for Steven Universe and counts The New York Times and Bitch Magazine among her clients, perfectly captures this culinary experience in her animated short, “My Love.” In “My Love,” a figure in a cloak and witch’s hat gives birth to a baby through her forehead. She then goes on to lick, squeeze, and gaze at the baby in wonder. At one point, she plucks the baby’s toes off his foot and pops them into her mouth.
But the baby isn’t completely passive. At the end, he casually pulls his mother’s eye from its socket and bats it around like a toy. Any new parent who’s found that their body is now their child’s plaything can relate.
Angie Wang on her viral animation
I spoke to Wang, who says the inspiration for the short came from how fixated on her own baby she became after giving birth. “When you have a newborn, your brain just goes into overdrive, and you’re just like, ‘I’m obsessed with this baby,'” Wang says. “I was thinking about what I wanted to do for my next animation, and the only thing I could think about was this baby. I just had to create something that encapsulates my feelings about what I want to do to my baby.” Then she laughs. “Just as a metaphor!”
The short pulls in themes from mythology and folklore, including Saturn devouring his children, Athena being born from Zeus, and a witch’s hat. “When I was thinking about wanting to eat the baby, I thought about how that love is so overwhelming that it feels almost violent,” Wang says. “It reminded me of stories about witches eating babies. When I thought about eating mine, it made me think, ‘Am I a witch, eating my baby?’ It was imagery that made sense to me on a primal level.”
Social media can create the illusion that artists are just tossing out work as quickly as the rest of us compose tweets, but creating an animated short wasn’t a quick process, especially as a new parent. “In between doing childcare, [the animation] took me probably six months on and off,” Wang says. “Each second has about 10 frames, so that’s 520 drawings total.”
Like much of Wang’s other work, “My Love” has a psychedelic bent to it, which Wang connects to her love of poetry. “The thing I like about poetry is that metaphors can hold a multiplicity of meanings,” she says. “When you experience the world, you’re not experiencing everything as, ‘this thing means this exactly, and this thing means this.’ Everything you’re experiencing means multiple things. That’s what I really like about psychedelic work. It allows space for more meanings.”
Of course, Twitter being what it is, the animation’s success hasn’t been without drama. “People may have reported it for containing violent imagery because it got a content warning put on it,” Wang says. “I appealed the content warning, and Twitter agreed to remove it, but I was like, ‘Do people think this animation is about actually eating babies? I got some comments from people who were like, ‘I’m concerned and disturbed by this.'” (As of this writing, that “sensitive content” warning is still up on the video.)
“And I understand,” Wang says. “But also, if you’re a parent, or an uncle or an aunt, or even if you have a pet, you probably kind of understand the experience.”
(featured image: Angie Wang)
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