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Weird History

Americans Used To Have "Better Baby" Contests To Rank Who Had The Most Physically Perfect Infant

State fairs in the early 20th century hosted so-called 'better baby contests,' and they were incredibly popular. Despite the name, however, babies weren't just being judged on their chubby cheeks and toothless grins. The contests used the principles of eugenics and scientific racism to pick the most "fit" infants. Parents were literally entering human livestock into competitions to win prizes.

The history of eugenics in America is a dark brush with white supremacy in the guise of science. And while eugenics promoted sterilizing the unfit until the 1970s, it was incredibly popular. Even Helen Keller supported eugenics. The better baby contests were one of many ways in which America kept racism alive after the Civil War, since the prizes only went to white babies.

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