Some metaphors are hard to understand. This New York Times article analyzes the (possibly) recent trend in some cultures, including American culture, of comparing babies to food.

 Think about phrases like “She is so cute I want to eat her up!” or “He is delicious!” Pregnancy apps and various parenting books compare the size of the fetus at various points of gestation to different forms of food.

One theory is that food is familiar so it eases the anxiety of being pregnant. Another is that food is connected to love and therefore using food metaphors to understand a baby is easy and natural.

A weird hypothesis, but my favorite for some reason, is that these terms are an example of “cute aggression,” where people are overwhelmed with positive feelings upon seeing a baby – and expressing the desire to eat, crush, or bite said child somehow brings them back to a state of balance. (I don’t recall experiencing this with a baby, but I think I have experienced it with various dogs.)

The NYT writer points out that this is a cultural thing. In many places, if you say you want to eat someone’s baby you would be perceived as weird or even hostile. So I wonder why this metaphor, at this time in history, and in some cultures, has become so prominent?