Esquire (Philippines) - - NOTES & ESSAYS -

EV­ERY­THING ABOUT SCAR­LET SNOW Belo seems too good to be real. I mean, se­ri­ously: Look at those bright, round eyes, those rosy cheeks, and that pre­cious lit­tle smile. She’s im­pos­si­bly cute— enough that she could melt even the most elo­quent of us into a pud­dle of drivel and babytalk. Then con­sider the alarm­ing speed at which Scar­let is learn­ing to ar­tic­u­late new words, phrases, sen­tences, and songs: At just age two, she’s quickly get­ting a hang of the al­pha­bet, learn­ing Man­darin as a third lan­guage, singing along to An­nie, and even telling peo­ple that she wants to be a der-ma-to-lo-gist when she grows up (fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of her par­ents, Drs. Vicky Belo and Hay­den Kho). Preter­nat­u­rally adorable and ever more pre­co­cious by the day, Scar­let is, to put it in her gen­er­a­tion’s own terms, #baby­goals.

But of course, we all know this much and more about Scar­let be­cause she was prac­ti­cally born into the pub­lic eye, land­ing a bill­board as the spokes­baby of her mom’s hy­giene brand, Belo Baby, when she was just a lit­tle over a year old. Her own In­sta­gram ac­count, @scar­let­snow­belo, made its first post shortly af­ter in May 2016, and would even­tu­ally amass one mil­lion fol­low­ers in less than a year, mak­ing Scar­let the most in­flu­en­tial lo­cal celebrity-baby, with more fol­low­ers than each of her own par­ents, @dochay­den (365,000 at the time of this writ­ing) and @vic­to­ri­a_­belo (907,000 at the time of this writ­ing). Through their pages and hers, we get a look into Scar­let’s ev­ery­day life: a con­sis­tently en­dear­ing se­ries of ac­tiv­i­ties and sit­u­a­tions (and, well, ads) that make no mys­tery of how she ac­quired her sev­endigit fol­low­ing: Ev­ery­thing she does is just so damn adorable, and peo­ple can’t get enough of her.

“When I look at her, she re­minds me so much of my­self,” says Scar­let’s fa­ther Hay­den, speak­ing in the man­ner that ev­ery new fa­ther does: with a kind of pro­found and con­tem­pla­tive en­thu­si­asm, let­ting a few smiles slip through at the thought of his child. “Her per­son­al­ity is very sim­i­lar to mine. She’s quite or­ga­nized. She’s a bit moody. And you can see in her eyes that she’s very in­tro­spec­tive,” he con­tin­ues. “She’s very witty and funny; very play­ful. And she has a strong per­son­al­ity, like her mom.” But above all, he says it’s Scar­let’s charm that stands out. “She has that charm that re­ally draws peo­ple close to her, that makes peo­ple like her, even love her.”

As it turns out, that charm has earned Scar­let the love of le­gions. Fame and adu­la­tion have come to her at an in­cred­i­ble pace and at such an early age, through so­cial me­dia. And while that pace could seem un­set­tling to a par­ent, her fa­ther sees it for both its mer­its and its dan­gers. “I don’t think that there is any­thing in­trin­si­cally wrong or evil with so­cial me­dia,” says Hay­den. “I think it’s what you do with it that makes it good or bad.” He does ac­knowl­edge the ef­fects that so­cial me­dia has had on our time, and that too of­ten, it’s been used as a ve­hi­cle for the wrong mes­sages. But he doesn’t dis­miss the plat­form it­self. “I think that the best way is to not deny that so­cial me­dia is there, or pre­tend that it doesn’t ex­ist. I think that the best way is to em­brace it.”

Scar­let’s page, of course, is a re­sult of that de­ci­sion to em­brace so­cial me­dia, with the clear in­ten­tion of us­ing it pos­i­tively.” If you look at Scar­let’s In­sta­gram, there’s no neg­a­tiv­ity there,” says Hay­den. “Scar­let Snow’s so­cial me­dia is all about faith and fam­ily and fun.”

But be­cause it’s a two-way street, Hay­den also finds that he must deal with the oc­ca­sional neg­a­tiv­ity from the pub­lic. “The mo­ment that any­one says any­thing bad or even on the border of be­ing bad, I just block them, and delete all the con­ver­sa­tions. I try to edit as much as I can.”

Vig­i­lance, it seems, is what Hay­den posits as a way of deal­ing with the new chal­lenges of modern par­ent­ing. In many ways other than his man­age­ment of Scar­let’s so­cial me­dia, Hay­den considers him­self “very hands-on” as a fa­ther, dis­cussing the im­por­tance of choos­ing Scar­let’s preschool and en­sur­ing that the car­toons she watches don’t teach the wrong val­ues. “Some par­ents, be­cause they’re very busy with so many things, they out­source rais­ing their kids,” he be­moans. “They out­source it to nan­nies, to aun­ties, to schools, to so­cial me­dia, to YouTube. And I think that’s a fatal er­ror.”

Of course, Hay­den does ac­knowl­edge that one day, he will have to give Scar­let a mea­sure of in­de­pen­dence, and that when that day comes, she will have al­ready lead a very pub­lic life, with a pow­er­ful voice. “I will prob­a­bly turn this [so­cial me­dia ac­count] over to Scar­let when she is able, when I know that she is ready for it, and she has the right val­ues and the right char­ac­ter. She has a lot of fol­low­ers now, and if in the fu­ture, she gets to han­dle this on her own, what will she do with it? [With] that, we’re very cau­tious.”

And if they de­cide that she isn’t ready for the power she would wield? “Then I’ll just delete the In­sta­gram [ac­count]. We’re re­ally not at­tached to it at all. I mean, we cel­e­brate some­times—it’s fun. But hon­estly, if it’s go­ing to com­pro­mise or dis­tort the fu­ture of Scar­let in any way, we’ll just take it out. Let her rebel in the fu­ture when she’s ready.” — MIGUEL ES­CO­BAR

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