Singer and Global Citizen John Legend is encouraging dads to be more active parents — which includes changing diapers. Changing tables in men’s public bathrooms are hard to come by, making it more challenging for fathers to do their part.
Legend has teamed up with diaper brand Pampers and changing table company Koala Kare to announce that they will help install 5,000 changing tables in men’s bathrooms across the US and Canada. Pampers shared the news in a video featuring Legend with his son, Miles, on Monday.
Legend and other dads are shown changing their babies on inconvenient surfaces, from pianos to car seats. The video also includes the viral photo of father Donte Palmer changing his son’s diaper while squatting against the wall of a public restroom, which sparked the hashtag #SquatForChange and calls for more changing tables in men’s bathrooms. Pampers partnered with Palmer on its latest initiative, and is also inviting fathers to share photos of themselves bonding with their children using the hashtag #LoveTheChange.
Most dads have been there: you’re out with your kids & there's no place to change their diaper. In honor of Father’s Day, @Pampers is providing 5,000 @KoalaKare changing tables in public restrooms. Finally, no more diaper duty on your lap! #LoveTheChange#PampersPartnerpic.twitter.com/1dBR2KwnBw— John Legend (@johnlegend) June 10, 2019
Pampers and Koala Kare will start installing tables in “high-need” locations first, specifically in public spots like parks and libraries in cities including Cincinnati, Dallas, and Detroit, according to CNN. Some locations are set to receive new tables within the next few weeks.
“To change how we view dads is an amazing feeling,” Palmer told Global Citizen.
The real benefit to Pampers' changing table initiative is not that more men will have access to changing tables but that it helps establish them as primary parents, according to Darcy Lockman, author of All the Rage: Mothers, Fathers, and the Myth of Equal Partnership.
“There are so many implicit messages that we get societally about who really should be in charge of kids and one of those implicit messages, among many, is that there are no changing tables in men’s rooms,” Lockman told Global Citizen. “The more of those implicit messages we can stop sending, the better off we are.”
Legend told People that his interest in challenging unequal parenting roles came from his personal experience taking care of his daughter Luna with her mother, model Chrissy Tiegen. This isn’t the first time Legend has spoken out against stereotypical gender roles. In February, Legend starred in Pampers’ Super Bowl commercial with musician Adam Levine, reminding people that changing diapers isn’t just a mom’s job.
The response to Pamper’s new video has been positive, but Palmer noted that some people have who said 5,000 changing tables aren't enough. Palmer recently started a nonprofit organization, Squat for Change, to continue empowering dads to be equal parents. He’d like to see the Pampers initiative influence other companies around the world to similarly invest in changing tables, and for lawmakers to pass legislation that ensures they’re available to all parents.
“We are going to keep fighting for parents, fathers, and equality to see the change that we’re looking for,” Palmer said.
Some legislation has been passed to provide adequate resources for dads to fully co-parent, but it hasn’t completely fixed the problem.
In 2016, President Obama passed the Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation, or BABIES, Act, which required changing tables in some, but not all, public bathrooms in a given building, according to CNN. According to the law, buildings don’t have to install a changing table in every restroom, but they have to provide signage directing people to the nearest one, which is often in the women’s bathroom.
In addition to installing more facilities for dads to use, Lockman said there needs to be an ongoing effort to shift messaging around parenting in daily life. Renaming programs like “Mommy and Me” to include fathers is one way to start.
“We need to change the messaging as much as everything else before we really start to think of parents as being potentially equal,” Lockman said.
Disclosure: The Pampers brand is part of company Procter & Gamble, a proud partner of Global Citizen.