About 10 minutes into the school nativity play, 5-year-old Ella Legge spotted a hangnail on her middle finger. That nagging boo-boo bothered her so much that the girl started inspecting it mid-play. First, she raised the injured middle finger and stared at it. Not satisfied by looking at the finger in isolation, she lifted the other one to compare and contrast the middle fingers.
“I was horrified and trying to tell her to put it down without interrupting,” mom Carla Bovingdon, 33, of Essex, England, told TODAY Parents, via email.
For the next 20 minutes of the play, Ella, dressed as an angel complete with a gown and a glittery tinsel halo, examined her finger in great depth as the holiday program continued on behind her. Her mom suspects the girl kept her fingers up to make absolutely sure her parents knew about the offending hangnail. Though Bovingdon felt slightly embarrassed, she snapped some pictures of Ella because she and others got a chuckle from it.
“A few of the older kids in the audience were commenting, a couple of teachers noticed it, but we all tried to ignore it,” Bovingdon explained.
She shared the photos online and they quickly went viral. People love seeing the sweet angelic Ella seemingly flipping off the crowd. But Bovingdon says her daughter doesn’t know what raising a middle finger means or what she was doing.
“It’s a bit upsetting some of the comments that she’s rude as she had no idea what the gesture meant as she’s not seen it before,” Bovingdon said. “She didn’t know it was rude.”
While they’re surprised by how popular Ella’s pictures have become, Bovingdon knows why so many people relate to it. Ella looks so sweet and is clearly oblivious that she’s doing something mean or offensive.
“It’s her innocence that makes it so funny,” Bovingdon said.
Ella “loves that lots of people like her pictures” and her hangnail has, of course, healed. This isn’t the first time that the girl made a big splash during a performance. When she was 3, she spent some of her ballet recital “with her hands over her eyes as looking in the distance shouting, ‘mum, dad’ and waving frantically.”
Bovingdon shared the pictures online because she thought many parents could relate and thought the images “would bring some light-hearted Christmas fun.”