Alec Smyth/File

My name is Tom Edmondson, and I am an adult baby. I know what you’re thinking: “How can you be a baby if you’re 20 years old?” This is exactly the kind of ignorance I deal with on a regular basis. Many of you think “baby” is defined by one’s age. Many of you, I’m afraid, are wrong. Being a baby is an identity, a personal lifestyle choice, an entire culture in itself. But this world makes it difficult to feel comfortable expressing myself. This world is not conducive to the adult-baby lifestyle.

One of the hardest parts of being an adult baby is the diapers I have to settle for. You see, “adult underwear,” a ridiculous euphemism employed by those ashamed to embrace their inner adult baby, only prevents leakage. This means I can’t relieve myself fully into my diaper — trust me, I’ve tried — and I am thus forced to use public restrooms, which I feel uncomfortable entering without adult supervision.

Often times, I have purchased youth baby diapers because of their superior structural integrity. I must buy them in bulk and duct-tape six or seven youth baby diapers together in order to produce a functional result. I absolutely do not understand why no stronger adult baby diapers exist and why they must be masked with the pathetic facade of “adult underwear.” Such backhanded marketing strategies are a huge reason for the lack of recognition and support within the adult-baby lifestyle. Right now, I am one of about one members of the worldwide adult baby community.

I live in a student housing cooperative. For the most part, I am accepted there. But there are days when I doubt the moral stature of even the people I live with. An example of their insensitive behavior toward me: Countless times, I have entered the laundry room in order to retrieve my clean reusable diapers from the dryer, only to find that they have all been thrown in the garbage. Would I throw away your clothes? No. Even though I think all your clothes are ugly.

Another example: During dinner, I feel weird about asking someone to please mash up my food into a smooth paste and feed it to me like an airplane. I should not have to feel weird about that. It’s not my fault that the food managers refuse to stock the house with real baby food.

The party scene is the worst — during our themed parties, all I hear is “Yo, how does a baby fit this theme …?” And I’m like, dude, I’m wearing a fucking cowboy hat. The diaper is not a costume. I am a fucking cowboy. Plus, people seem to get confused when I ask, “Do you wanna go back to my crib?” or, “Do you want a drink from my bottle?” Not everything is about sex and alcohol, OK? If all that weren’t enough, my recent habitual tantrums and constant near-nudity have been a heated discussion topic during our council meetings. Apparently, I can’t be who I want to be. Apparently, embracing the spirit of my identity is unacceptable.

It’s not just at home that I feel outcasted. It’s difficult for me to feel accepted anywhere. In Babies ‘R’ Us, everyone’s all, “Dude, you’re a man in a diaper, get out of here.” Really? Really? I’m a baby just like any of the babies you’re buying baby things for. Get over it and yourself. That’s one of my biggest issues: People assume that youth babies — commonly referred to simply as “babies” — are the norm. This simply isn’t true. Just because youth babies were the first type of babies to exist doesn’t make them the paragon for baby culture. But nobody understands that. On public transit, people shoot me strange looks and shake their heads in disapproval. In restaurants, I am regularly turned away by the “no shirt, no shoes, no service” policy. Well, what about the “I don’t care” policy I just created? Then, maybe, we could both receive the trophy for the World’s Most Arbitrary and Ridiculous Rule of All Time. Am I not … adult-y enough for you? What does it even mean to be adult-y?

I know, I know. I get a little worked up sometimes. It’s time for me to calm down. I’ll leave you with one thing: Until the day comes when you finally slip on that diaper and feel its power, its support, the feeling of sheer freedom and comfort it provides, do not look down on me for who I choose to be. This is something I’m passionate about, and I would love to continue expounding on it, but right now, my diaper needs to be changed. Don’t worry. I’m used to it by now. It’s seriously not that gross — sometimes, it’s just hard to find someone who’s willing to change it for me.