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The International Writers Magazine
:21st Century Designer Babies Grow Up

The Other Me
Gemma Ayres

What would she have been like, this other me? I often sit and wonder.
Would she have been athletic like me, musical like me, would she have loved reading and writing like me? Would she have looked like me, had a high IQ like me, had a fetish for pink shoes like me? And would my parents have loved her - even if she wasn’t any of those things?
I wish I could say yes, an unequivocal yes - but I can’t. Because I’m just not sure they would.

I never knew when I was younger that I was ‘special’. I’ve played piano since age four. I used to get my spellings right every week. I won all the races on sports day. Mum and Dad were there, cheering me on. I had no reason to think anything was strange - I was just a normal girl leading a normal life. I thought I was a good student because I worked hard, I played the piano well because I practised every day, I was good at sports because I trained hard and kept myself fit. Not because my parents had chosen me to be that way.

Designer babies are becoming more and more popular - but its still not easy for us, the first generation, the experiments. People rarely ask for our opinion. Perhaps they know what we’d say. Designing babies is very expensive - that means somewhere people are making money, and nobody who’s making a hefty profit wants the voice of rebellion poisoning people’s minds. But people should know what its like, maybe then they wouldn’t think about putting their child through this. They don’t know what its like to feel like a robot, a machine, programmed to be the way you are by people who supposedly brought you into the world to love you, and yet felt the need to make you how they wanted you to be. Not given any choice in the matter. Birth and life used to be about nature. Now its about science. People used to conceive naturally, didn’t know what their child would be like, but loved it anyway.

Would my parents love the other me, the natural me, the ‘real’ me? They didn’t want to know me as I would have been. Would they have loved me if I hadn’t been so athletic, so musical, had such a high IQ? Would they have loved me if I’d been a brunette instead of a blonde, had brown eyes instead of blue? It’s horrible to feel this way - its like you don’t even know yourself.

All my life I thought this was just the way I was because that’s how nature created me - now I know differently. I look in the mirror and stare at my reflection - the face of a girl who wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for ‘science’ - that thing we’re supposed to worship, the thing that is our ‘future’. To me, it is an ugly word, which means the destruction of nature, of basic human rights. People shouldn’t have to grow up knowing their parents designed them. We’re not a bag of sweets from Pick ‘n’ Mix, ‘Ooh, I think I’ll have a tennis player with a knack for algebra and a passion for Wagner’ or ‘I fancy a pretty girl this time, curly blonde hair, loves horseback riding, with an IQ of 136’. It just doesn’t work that way. I feel lost inside my own body, feel like I don’t even know who I am anymore, don’t even know if I exist. I can’t talk to my parents, I just don’t see them in the same way anymore. I don’t see anything the same way anymore. I feel rejected, fake,unreal, inhuman. And they call this progress?
© Gemma Ayres Dec 6th 2024

Gemma Ayres is a Creative Arts student at Portsmouth University

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