Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dirty Diapers

As new parents, my wife and I have been exploring the variety of brand options available for our daughter's diapers. To date we have explored Huggies, Pampers, and a generic brand from Costco. For the last month I have noticed the different designs found on these garments, but did not really start thinking about their significance until today.

To be blunt, designs on a diaper are dumb and a waste of ink.

Huggies depict images of Winnie the Pooh. Pampers have a variety of characters from Sesame Street (baby versions of Bert and Ernie, Big Bird and Snuffleupagus, Cookie Monster and Elmo. Costco simply has a smiling monkey with some miscellaneous patterns. Apart from the quantity of diapers typically available from Costco packages, whereby increase in volume reduces price per unit, that illustration of a random monkey does not have all the trademark issues that Pooh Bear or the mini-muppets have, which further reduces the cost.

As I was changing a diaper this morning, I looked at that design. My daughter was not looking at it. She stares at the ceiling, blank walls, and sometimes the various things hanging on the walls. She does not make a conscious effort to look at the diaper. I'll wager that once she has greater motor skills in her neck she still will not make an effort to bend over and look at the commercially familiar or mundane generic characters illustrated on her diaper. To add more fuel to the fire, those banal and insipid illustrations are covered by whatever garment she wears. So, if the intention of the smiling cartoons is to inspire happiness, the intention is cloaked under onesie, pants, or dress, eliminating any potential function. Unless the function is to provide some sort of happiness for the parents, or possibly some reminder to the parents that their child's development will not be complete without box sets of Sesame Street DVDs, or perhaps Winnie the Pooh dishware, allowing the child to see Tigger at the bottom of the Cheerio bowl, look at Piglet when spooning up peas, or to drink milk from Eeyore's head.

When I was a child, disposable diapers were just coming onto the market. My parents had the misfortune of fumbling with cloth diapers - plain, white, cloth diapers. They have since been recycled into burp rags. The only cute thing on the diaper was a baby's bottom (either mine or my brother's). While this certainly caused for a gray existence - this absence of commercial happiness - they did have the distinct advantage of knowing that if some stroke of yellow was protruding from my blue onesie, it was most likely a soiled diaper and not the feathers of Big Bird.

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