Sunday night the Crawford-Gerber clan posed for paps on the red carpet for the premiere of Tomorrowland in Anaheim, Calif., forcing us all to immediately cry uncle that some genes are clearly superior to others.
Seems genetics are working out pretty well for the lucky kids whose parents are renowned for gracing screens large and small, or landing the cover of Vogue magazine. But what about the rest of us? Genes can be blamed for some but not all of our inherited characteristics, surely. For example, what about these?
1. The Apple-Pear Divide
I’m an apple. Not like Gwyneth’s little fruit (who, incidentally, looks exactly like her mom, just as the GOOP goddess resembles Blythe Danner). No, I mean as in shaped. Some women are more proportionate pears; I will never be. Just like my mother, her mother, and her mother’s mother before her, I’m programmed to be built like a spherical Pink Lady through my bust and mid-section, juxtaposed against two toothpick legs. While exercise and healthy eating have managed to whittle away a bit of my core, I’m resigned that once I pass menopause I, too, will likely look a lot like the guy who sells tighty-whities.
2. Talking at the TV
Biology plays no part in whether or not you speak to the television set. Yet it’s a trait we tend to pass on. “What’s happening now? Why is the Bionic Woman dying?” my mother could once be heard wondering aloud in a stage whisper from our couch, annoying me and my siblings, who were desperately trying to follow the Jaime Sommers death plot over her audible histrionics. These days I catch myself doing similar running commentary during films—including the updated Parent Trap and classics such as E.T.—when I watch them with my two daughters. “Lindsay Lohan didn’t turn out too well,” I might muse to them while considering the troubled redhead’s first breakout turn as reunited twin sisters. A few days later it could be: “Don’t worry, Elliot’s gonna make it! I promise!” as I choke back tears during the emotionally heavy medical tent scene, while my girls look at me and together hiss, “Shhhhhh!”
3. Politic Leaning
Sure, we all recall how Alex P. Keaton (played by the inimitable Michael J. Fox) went against the grain on the ’80s sitcom Family Ties. He was Conservative with a capital “C,” which horrified his aging hippie parents. However, most of us go with what we know, which is why Americans tend to breed generation after generation of the same two tired political parties. Still, a compelling book from 2013 called Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us by author Avi Tuschman—one that inspired many a blog post and magazine article—suggests that there may be a genetic component behind the stark demarcation of left and right voting. In other words, quit trying to talk down to your nemesis from high school on Facebook. He may just be hardwired to hate the president. There, I just saved you 18 months of agita before the upcoming election.
4. Sweet Teeth
My kids have both inherited my Irish snaggleteeth, just as I got them from my dad. I also endured years of agonizing orthodontia that defied nature in my quest for a nice smile. Now my offspring, too, are undergoing similar Marathon Man-like torture in the dentist’s chair. Genes must be the culprit behind their expensive braces and headgear. But how do you explain my shared obsession for insanely sugary sweets with my youngest daughter? My father had to have his every tooth pulled out of his head as a young man of 20 because he loved his candy so much. My maternal grandmother always kept two bowls of peppermints on her coffee table for constant noshing, plus a few open rolls of Lifesavers stashed in her purse next to a wad of used Kleenex. I’m a sucker for a lollipop, and so is my kid. You can’t fight DNA. It’s sweet.
5. The Funny Gene
Ever notice how some families just aren’t…funny? Earnest, stern, yelling, depressed, hardworking, kind, yes, I’ve seen them all. But funny? Not always. Maybe not even often. Funny runs in the blood. If you’re lucky, as I have been, to be surrounded by funny folk, you wind up placing a premium on the one-liners coming out of your own offspring’s mouths. It gets downright competitive among the elementary school set. Which is why at our dinner table we get a lot of: Hey, Mom! What do you get when you cross a cat with a dark horse? Kitty Perry.
(Cindy Crawford, top that.)