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Gestation, birth, and infancy
Magic

Mexican “Gaze” Superstition

Leah Perez studies Latin American History at the University of Southern California. She was born in Gardena, California and moved to Torrance, California once she began school. Her parents are both Hispanic; her father is Puerto Rican and Mexican, and her mother is Mexican. Leah’s entire extended family speaks Spanish, and while Leah grew up speaking English, she has gained some fluency in Spanish by communicating with her relatives. Her immediate family observes Mexican traditions and has imparted many of these values to Leah and her siblings. In the excerpt below, Leah describes some Mexican superstitions regarding babies:

Leah: “Something that’s weird… I don’t know if it’s a Mexican thing, or if its just my family… but, you aren’t supposed to look at a baby while its sleeping, because it takes their beauty away apparently.”

Isabella: “Does this apply only to newborns?”

Leah: “Just like a sleeping child… maybe until they’re like, a toddler. So you can look at them, but not for a prolonged period, I guess. So, a quick glance is okay… like, to make sure they’re still breathing.”

The superstition Leah describes here is unique in that it violates normal parenting techniques. One might expect a new parent to observe their newborn as they sleep, so as to ensure that they are breathing properly, or to simply look at them in appreciation of their beauty.

The superstition also reveals some values; it emphasizes the importance of beauty and warns against any action (i.e. gazing at the baby for too long) that could compromise a child’s appearance. In a society that disregards outward appearance, one would not expect to find a superstition like the one Leah describes here.

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