It’s 2019, and there are lots of dads changing diapers. Unfortunately, the nation’s restrooms have yet to catch up with modern parenting.
Sadly, changing babies while out and about can prove to be somewhat of a challenge for many men, who are confronted by hurdles some would never even consider.
Virtually every women’s bathroom has a baby changing table, but the same cannot be said for men’s bathrooms.
New research by diaper manufacturer Pampers revealed that 9 out of 10 dads have used a public restroom lacking a baby changing table. This leaves dads and babies squatting and even using the restroom floor when desperate times call for desperate measures.
Singer, songwriter, and dad of two John Legend is hoping to change that, pun intended. In support of other dads — and let’s face it, any mom who doesn’t want to be the sole diaper-changer when the family is out and about — he is working with Pampers on their Love the Change campaign, which will provide 5,000 Koala Kare changing tables for public restrooms in high-need locations across the United States and Canada by 2021.
Legend is a hands-on dad to Luna, 3, and Miles, 1, and acknowledges that he and wife Chrissy Teigen are able to live and travel with privileges others might not have. However, parenting is a great equalizer, and he knows firsthand the importance of a changing table when dealing with diapers — especially now that he has a son.
“It’s a little more dangerous; You have to shield yourself. I just caught a little spray the other day,” he laughed.
“There’s been a lot of times when there just isn’t a place to change them,” Legend told TODAY Parents. In the facilities available, he said, it’s clear that women are the ones expected to take care of babies, not men, and that is no longer reality.
The lack of access to diaper changing resources came to the companies’ attention in part because of viral social media posts from dads like Florida’s Donte Palmer, who posted a picture of himself squatting and changing his child across his thighs on a restroom floor in 2018.
View this post on Instagram
This is a serious post!!! What’s the deal with not having changing tables in men’s bathroom as if we don’t exist!! #FLM #fatherslivesmatter clearly we do this often because look how comfortable my son is. It’s routine to him!!!! Let’s fix this problem! I Kaepernick drop a knee to this issue! @theshaderoom let’s show the innovation of fathers! #squatforchange Follow us now!! @3boys_1goal
“What’s the deal with not having changing tables in men’s bathrooms as if we don’t exist?” Palmer wrote. “Clearly, we do this often, because look at how comfortable my son is.” Palmer’s post has over 9,300 likes on Instagram and gained national attention, spurring him to start a #squatforchange campaign to put more changing tables in restrooms designated for men.
Palmer didn’t share the picture online until a couple of weeks later, intending to get a few reactions from family and friends. But by the following morning, Palmer’s post had gone viral worldwide, birthing a brand new parenting movement.
Many fathers were prompted to share similar photographs of their babies being changed in an array of makeshift ways; on laps and in car boots, all using the #SquatForChange.
This was all back in September 2018. In the months since, Palmer’s activism has grown beyond anything he could have expected, with a sometimes ‘overwhelming’ public reaction.
Speaking with UNILAD, Palmer revealed he and his wife are ‘amazed’ at how one picture has led to him ‘having so many friends around the world’:
Regardless of colour, regardless of social background, regardless of your financial status. One thing that we all can agree on is being a parent. And that is why this campaign is so important when it comes to fathers around the world.
— Donte Palmer (@SquatForChange) May 5, 2019
Frustrated fathers have shown solidarity for the cause from ‘Houston to Uganda, West Gambia, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Brazil’.
Palmer told UNILAD of the ‘significant changes he has already seen’:
A couple of local restaurants right in in Jacksonville have reached out to me, saying they have put changing tables and they were inspired by the campaign so they started placing changing tables in about two or three restaurants. And they placed changing tables in their restroom.
Major companies have begun to listen to these concerns. Squat For Change have already forged partnerships with diaper giant Pampers and baby changing station company Koala Care.
Over the next two years, 5,000 changing tables will be installed in men’s bathrooms throughout the US and Canada, all thanks to Squat For Change. However, there is is still much work to do.
Palmer told UNILAD about the presumptions implicit within the notion that baby changing tables should only exist within women’s only spaces:
It says that moms are the ones who are supposed to be the caretakers. They’re the ones who are supposed to provide for the babies, cook for the babies, change diapers. You know, stay at home and cook and clean.
And that’s false. And for a long time I believed that. Until I got married a year and three months ago, and I met my beautiful, strong wife. And she said, ‘no, this is how life works’. If I came home from work, and I just expected my wife to cook everyday, I’d probably be divorced right now!
But I say that in all seriousness, my wife and I, we play everything on an equal playing field in my household.
We have to change that narrative of what the world views mom and dad as, or male and female as when it comes to our society and roles of being married or being parents.
It’s just one of those things, we have to break those gender boxes. And that’s why my wife stepped up and she’s really helping me push the Squat For Change campaign for we can put our marriage and our parenting roles on a pedestal, so we can show society how we should be.
Mom and dad working together, for a greater cause, making sure everybody in the house is good. And making sure parents around the world can see what exactly it is to be a parent, a husband and a wife.
The uneven distribution of changing tables signifies so much more about society’s backwards attitude towards parenting and in particular fatherhood. Furthermore, it brushes aside the varied experiences of fatherhood; from single parents to widowers, care givers to those in same sex relationships.
Thanks to Dante Palmer, fathers around the country, and parts of the world, will have diaper changing stations.