SCARLET SNOW BELO & HAYDEN KHO
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