Many parents have had that moment of panic—you're out in public and you need to change your baby but there is no changing table to be found. Unfortunately for fathers, this is way more common. Most public restrooms for women are equipped with changing tables, but for some reason, many men's rooms still don't have them.
So dads end up squatting or laying the changing pad down on a dirty floor or a wet sink, or—in the worst emergencies—attempting a vertical diaper change, which is no fun for anyone involved. That's why we love how John Legend is speaking up about the need for changing tables in men's rooms.
The famous father of two is a spokesperson for Pampers (remember the Super Bowl commercial?) and is part of Pampers' new campaign to get 5,000 more changing tables (those Koala Kare ones that are ubiquitous in women's bathrooms) into men's bathrooms in the U.S. and Canada by 2021. They're being installed in men's rooms in recreation centers, community centers, parks, libraries and other locations.
"Spending time out and about with my kids is one of the greatest joys in my life, but it's frustrating when I am out with Miles and the men's restroom doesn't have a baby changing table. I'm proud to support Pampers as it paves the way for more inclusive parenting by providing all of us dads out there with the tools we need to succeed," Legend explains in a news release.
Legend explains how the campaign was inspired by Donte Palmer, the father who went viral after he posted a photo of squatting in a men's room to change his son, along with the hashtag #squatforchange. Palmer is part of the majority of dads who embrace diaper duty as a part of parenthood. These days, only about 3% of dads have never changed a diaper. Unfortunately, many bathrooms (even new ones) are stuck in the 1980s, when a whopping 43% of fathers admitted they'd never changed their baby.
It's time for men's rooms to get with the times.
We know that dads want to be caregivers, but feel like they can't be. There are so many barriers that keep dads from being the involved parents they want to be, and not having access to a changing table shouldn't be one of them.
Pampers' commitment to installing change tables is an easy fix and good marketing—which is part of a larger trend in how companies court consumers. In fact, there's a term for this now. It's called "positive dadvertising." Gillette has made a big splash with ads that challenge masculinity stereotypes, and the CEO of Unilever recently committed 100% of the advertising spend for the Dove Men+Care line to ads that show men in positive or caring roles (and he's encouraging more men at Unilever to take paternity leave).
Dads are out here changing diapers and raising kids and it is time that we see that reflected in the media and in the amenities available to parents. This may not seem like a big deal, but this surge in "dadvertising" signals a cultural shift. Seeing themselves reflected in advertising shows dads they are not alone, and when these kinds of campaigns get a lot of attention, other companies want to get on the dadvertising bandwagon, too. And since we live in the age of Twitter, when companies know they can't get away with supporting dads in commercials while having poor paternity leave policies, this trend can also help drive better parental leave policies.
We know John is selling Pampers, but he's also selling something else: The fact that dads can be equal parents if society lets them. It shouldn't be up to just Pampers to put changing tables in men's rooms—it should be in the blueprint for every public bathroom.
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