Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Girls & Women

This Viral Photo of a Dad Changing Diapers Carries an Important Message

Donte Palmer diaper changing.jpgDonte Palmer changes his son Liam's diaper in the bathroom of a steakhouse in Jacksonville, Florida.
Image: Courtesy of Donte Palmer


Why Global Citizens Should Care
This viral photo of a dad squatting to form a makeshift table to change his son’s diaper highlights how gender stereotypes hinder parents’ performing equal child care duties. Child care has historically been considered a mother’s job, but fathers around the world are stepping up and speaking out. And that’s great not just for children, but for gender equality. You can take action to empower parents and advance gender equality here.

Donte Palmer has turned diaper changing into an innovative art — out of necessity.

The father of three regularly changes his son’s diapers, but has been forced to get creative when faced with men’s public restrooms that don’t have changing stations, which happens all too often.

Palmer has become an expert at creating a makeshift changing station by assuming what he calls his “perfect man squat” position and balancing his 1-year-old son, Liam, on his lap to change his diapers. While Palmer has done this several times before, his 12-year-old son, Isaiah, recently caught the feat in a photo that has since gone viral.

Initially, Palmer, a high school teacher, said he and his wife had a good laugh over the photos, which were taken in the bathroom of a steakhouse in Jacksonville, Florida. But his wife quickly observed that she never had to get creative or innovative when it came to changing her children's’ diapers, because changing stations are often available in women’s public bathrooms.

Take Action: Call on South Africa’s Minister of Labour to Enforce the Breastfeeding Code

His wife’s comment lingered in his mind and later prompted him to share the photos on Instagram, Palmer told the BBC.

“What’s the deal with not having changing tables in men’s bathroom as if we don’t exist!!” Palmer wrote on the Instagram post, using the hashtag #squatforchange on Sept. 23.

The photo has since gone viral, garnering thousands of likes and dozens of responses from fathers who have experienced similar diaper-changing challenges.

The lack of changing stations in men’s bathrooms underscores the fact that childcare remains a stereotypically female duty and silently reinforces the idea that diaper-changing is a mom’s job. But Palmer wants to change that.

“I want to create a world where changing your baby is a man thing too,” he told Global Citizen. The many responses to Palmer’s post show that an attitude shift is happening.

Unfortunately, most public spaces have been slow to catch up and have not yet made adjustments to accommodate fathers who need to change their babies’ diapers.

Read More: Tim Hortons Is Putting Diaper-Changing Tables in All Men's Washrooms Across Canada

Palmer wants to “shatter those gender boxes” and see equality among parents. He and the many fathers joining the #squatforchange movement want to be equal parents and want society to help make that possible.

“Men, we are sensitive and we are nurturers as well,” Palmer said.