If you’re a parent of an infant or a toddler, it’s likely that you’ve seen Huggies’ new spot for its “limited edition” denim style diapers. Or maybe you’ve seen Target’s latest brand/designer partnership – Pampers designed by Cynthia Rowley – on the bum of a little boy or girl near you.
Mommy bloggers and consumer critics, who question the priorities of parents who buy disposable diapers at a 40% premium for the sake of a short-lived spot of style, have certainly noticed. And more than one has asserted that today’s babies have gone from objects of affection to their parents’ latest accessories.
Look, I don’t really get denim diapers. I didn’t get when Shaun White wore denim-look snowboard pants during the Olympics either, but to each his own. And when it comes to diapers, my husband and I made a point of buying the unbleached, better-for-the-environment kind from Seventh Generation. (Not that we’re above making a statement with our son’s under-things – in Brooklyn, where we lived, the brown bag beige of these diapers were pretty eco-chic.) But why are “we” (“society” or “the media”) so uncomfortable with designer diapers?
- “We” don’t think kids are supposed to reflect their parents’ identity, but they do. To differing degrees, we, parents, might believe that we are doing a good job at letting our children – our babies even – choose their own adventure. But in truth, our kids see the world (at least in their early years) through the lens that we carefully craft for them. And we like them to look that way. I’d like my two-year-old to discover his own sense of style, eventually, but for now he wears t-shirts endorsing my political candidate of choice, the Beatles and the Yankees (or the Phillies depending on whether dad or mom has dressed him that day). And I’m pretty sure I think of him as more than an identity prop. In the least, he’s a very cute billboard.
- “We” want to take parenting seriously, but sometimes it’s not. Parenting is serious. And today’s parents know that. Today’s moms are more mature (at least in age) and better educated than ever before. More are having babies by choice – and often trying very hard to have kids. And these chosen babies are a more scrutinized, coddled and pampered (no pun intended) group than ever before. If, in the eyes of the world, putting your infants in design-conscious looks negate all the other stuff that these designer-diapering parents are likely doing to nurture their children’s potential, then I would like to ask, “World, did you skip your coffee this morning? And have you ever changed a diaper?”
We’re not suggesting that parenting is something to take lightly. And we don’t mean to imply that anything that makes a parent laugh is okay or good for their babies, but paying a bit more for a pattern on a diaper (made by companies like Kimberly-Clark or Procter and Gamble, who, presumably, are not going to begin manufacturing gold-plated Pull-Ups or baby stilettos on the heels of this trend), seems like an acceptable indulgence.
- “We” claim to not buy sizzle over substance, but actually, we do. Perhaps this debate strikes a chord as it raises the question, “Does design matter?” And perhaps more provocatively, “Should it”? If the answer is, “No,” then we’ve all got a lot of changing to do. And someone needs to call Target and let them know that their design-centric strategy – despite stellar sales even in a down economy – isn’t working.
Yes, spending so much more for disposable diapers in a down economy is irresponsible or, at least, obnoxious. And there are valid points to make about where R&D dollars are going (towards creating a more earth-friendly diaper or a more aesthetically pleasing one). But if wallpapering your child’s bottom with a cheeky pattern is the vice of choice for today’s parents, then we’re okay with that.
Do you think designer diapers are here to stay? Or just a flash in the can?