| | |

Iconic D: Diapers, Yes, Diapers

I decided to have fun with the A to Z challenge this year.  So as I was searching for the perfect Icon to discuss for my The Iconic Feminine, entry D, the only iconic female, real or mythic, that I found interesting was Delilah.  Sampson’s downfall.  Blame the woman, cast her as the harlot, a personal saboteur.  Well at least this Old Testament villain is interesting… but I just was not excited to write about her.
So I went to bed and slept on it.  I awoke wanting to steer clear of Biblical icons.  Religion and politics are not fun.  But what had decided to embed itself in my brain for the letter D was the word diapers.  The iconic femininity of diapers?  Yep.  I had to think about that one a while.
Diapers.  Poop.  Children.’s butts.  Wash or dispose.  Train.  Health.  Sanitation.  Yes, these are components of the, pardon my language, the traditional shit to which women are culturally assigned and which compose some of the less glamorous iconic elements of femininity.  Taking care of business family.

So far we have looked at individual meaning and societal roles of two women both named Audrey at birth.  A doll that was drawn from the upscale, retail, American, 20th Century ideas of femininity.  An early European Goddess concept of age, wisdom, and dark mystery. And the “motherly” aspect of dealing with life’s shit makes up a part of the Iconic Feminine too. Diapers are the perfect icon for this.

Here is a scholarly article on the History of Diapers.
And here is an article about gendered unpaid work done by women around the globe.
So no matter whether it is changing a diaper, being sandwiched between aging parents and nearly grown children, bandaging a scraped knee at a soccer game, or doing the dishes that no one else thought to do, take comfort if you can in your iconic role, and if you can’t, keep on working to change culture and teach the next generation better.

Similar Posts


  1. I think women have the balance of mothering/working/partnering/self preservation about right these days. I think men are much more willing to pull their weight in the house and society is accepting of the working mother and the stay at home mother.
    My other thought on diapers is how the disposable diaper has taken over the world in the last 30 years – seeing a cloth diaper (nappy in Australia) is a rare sight indeed – I can’t remember seeing one on any baby I know in recent years.
    Leanne | http://www.crestingthehill.com.au
    D for Don’t Give Up

    1. We are getting there, but most of the world still expects women to work much more than men when you look at wage labor and family and home support.

  2. I miss my diaper days! I didn’t care that i changed way more diapers than my husband.
    I was a cloth diaper mom in the 80s and 90s and passed it on to my daughter who cloth diapers like a boss 9 and 7 years ago. And I doubt her husband changed more than 10 of them. So I guess I passed down some sort of shit changing pride and legacy to her!
    I detest disposables both for baby bums and the landfill…and wish for better.

    1. I was a cloth diaper Mom too! The coos and happy smiles of a clean and dry baby make all the sh*t tolerable!

  3. And, speaking of disposable diapers, I saw a feature on Trevor Noah highlighting the story of the woman who invented disposable diapers and then was cheated out of royalties-and credit for her invention. What a surprise.

  4. Fortunately, I think diapers can apply to masculine and feminine although probably not everywhere. For me, I know my husband changed as many of diapers as I did so I was lucky although I actually didn’t mind changing them. I haven’t thought of diapers in a long time.

    1. I don’t think of them often either. But I know I changed more than 3/4 of them for my daughter. Thank heavens for diaper services.

    1. I hope what you say is true. I see women doing more, but I am not sure it is even-steven as yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.