Do you feel like all you see or hear about right now is diapers? Not quite sure what to make of it or how it makes you feel? Let’s start with a few of the basics. Diapers are, like most other gear, an accessory, a fetish object and a whole scene in their own right. That scene is as diverse in its make-up as any other, in terms of how people interact with both the gear and the people, and there is the full spectrum from lifestylers to occasional scene players with all the spaces in the middle. As an accessory, a diaper is also growing in popularity as a playroom staple that can be fun, sensual, degrading, humiliating and ultimately easy to clean up when you’re done.
I have to make a little space for an obvious but important statement. The A in ABDL stands for ADULT. The various communities and cultures that make up the scene are all built by and for consenting adults, and as a community that has often been misrepresented in the press, suggesting the opposite will always provoke strong responses. Much like tugging on a pup hood and stuffing yourself with a tail before being fucked by your partner(s) and playmate(s) doesn’t make you a dog, choosing diapers and ageplay accessories doesn’t cause some sudden transformation of the play into something it isn’t.
If you’ve made it this far then I am going to assume that you are either part of what I call the ‘crinkly curious’ – a diaper has appeared whilst you’ve been scrolling through porn and you’re going ‘oh that’s actually…hot…’ or that you’re curious-supportive, wanting to understand why someone you know has talked about already being involved in or wanting to explore this space with you. Both are great places to be and even if it’s not your thing, we shouldn’t ‘yuck someone else’s yum’.
Did you see me slip in ABDL there? Let’s pause for a moment and talk about terms. ABDL, sometimes written as AB/DL, stands for Adult Baby/Diaper Lover and it’s a catch-all for the diaper scene. It’s a commonly used abbreviation that sums up the main two sides of the fetish. AB – ‘Adult Baby’ – now more commonly referred to as ‘ageplay’ and ‘Diaper Lovers’ – who lean into the diaper as a fetish object without most of the soft and fluffy trappings of ageplay. Lots of ABs are also DLs and lots of DLs find that they prefer a blurry line to a hard one, often picking up some other objects or items of clothing from their AB cousins.
So why all of a sudden? The reality is, it’s not all of a sudden at all. Diapers have been present at most major events, often as a room party for a number of years. As a semi-regular host of diaper-friendly side events at most major kink events across the US and beyond, I can tell you that plenty of people come along quietly, looking for a safe space to indulge in a well-hidden but important part of their identity.
What has changed is the visibility, the confidence and the sense of safety that has grown from a growing acceptance of diapers in kink over the last few years. ABDL is no longer the padded-butt of jokes. In part this is because brands like ABUniverse and others have invested heavily in the community around them. Education has been at the core of much of this. Creating panels that are accessible and spaces where the curious, interested or the slightly weirded-out can approach us, ask questions, meet us and walk away with a greater understanding that, like all other kinksters, we are people first. Diapered kinksters, ageplayers and DLs share the same concerns and needs as anyone else in the broader kink family and the fact that we are proud diapered folks is just one part of our identity.
As well as our own hard work, we owe a lot to the growing amount of respectful representation in media outlets. We were involved in Vice finally put out a piece of video on ABDL that didn’t leave me wanting the earth to swallow me as I watched it, (VIDEO LINK BELOW) and that creators of ‘Watts the Safeword’, Pup Amp and Mr. Kristofer have come out to bat for the ABDL community on a number of occasions as well as the latter, discovering that not only do diapers feel great but they also provide some pretty hot play along the way!
With this acceptance, emergence, and newfound confidence, we have found that we have community members and allies already involved in a number of the larger, regular kink events and those people now feel able to champion ABDL within those bigger scenes. I am grateful that CLAW, MIR and IML have all held space for us at their events and through each of these great weekends, once we’re spotted, the number of diapers peeking out of an outfit or simply on full display grows as the days pass.
With this light, interest, acceptance and support, the diaper focused communities have grown and will continue to grow into bigger, healthier spaces where we don’t turn heads just because we’re in diapers but because the diapers are a part of our being, looking and feeling awesome in and amongst the rest of the kink family.
I know that amongst some of you reading there’ll be a couple of burning questions. Do the diapers get used? Sure. For what, is up to the players. They are a great variation on a watersports scene, a quiet secret that can be wholly personal or shared with partners when out and about or a great vessel for WAM/gunge play or a way to keep a sub tied up/down for longer and when you’re all finished, a diaper is easy to bundle up and toss into the bin.
Do you like the idea of diapers, but got a little voice going ‘I’m not a sub’? Well duh! Diapered Doms is a thing and it’s a great blend and headfuck to be able to be both. It’s all about confidence in your own identity. Push that subs face against your own warm, wet diaper already and make sure they thank you for it!
I’ve tried hard to not talk about the psychology of diapers and ageplay, but I would like to refute the idea that an interest in diapers must come from a root of trauma. Like any other kink, it doesn’t have to. Our fetishes can and should liberate and elevate our sexual identities. Diapers can be something totally joyful, playful, sensual and randomly discovered as well as providing a space in which we can unpack our past as well as our present.
Is this really a fetish? Yes! Everything is a fetish to someone. One of the most wonderful aspects of diapers for me, is that they are both a kink, in their own right, and an excellent example of kinky crossover. As well as ABDL focused brands like ABUniverse, other queer and kink brands now make items that cater for the diaper scene, whether that’s a FIL-ABL rubber suit from Regulation or the ‘Padded Butt’ socks from Sk8erboy, or the fact that Mister B now sell small packs of diapers across a number of their stores, the community has been seen and is being catered for.
Miles // Tigger (he/him/kiddo) is the Director of Communications for ABUniverse as well as a photographer, artist, writer, serial note-taker, occasional poet, plant dad, disability activist and kink communicator.