John Legend Shares Why He's So Passionate About Bringing Changing Tables to Men's Restrooms
June 10, 2019
Despite the fact that dads have been changing their kids' diapers for decades, there's a serious shortage of changing tables in men's restrooms around the country. It's an issue that a high school teacher named Donte Palmer noted when he took to Instagram last September to share a photo of himself changing his son's diaper in a public restroom. Palmer since founded Squat For Change, an organization that aims to drive initiatives that result in the installation of appropriate diaper changing stations in all designated public restrooms.
It's an effort that multi-talented artist, activist, and dad of two John Legend can absolutely get behind, as he's been on a similar mission to empower dads with Pampers' "Love the Change" campaign. So, it makes perfect sense that Palmer, Legend, and Pampers have joined forces with Koala Kare to bring 5,000 changing tables to men's restrooms around North America by 2021. Over the next two years, Pampers and Koala Kare will identify high-need public locations—such as parks and recreation centers, community centers and libraries in cities like Cincinnati, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Detroit—and provide baby changing tables for installation in the men's restrooms.
"There are a lot of dads who are active parents and want to do what they can, and there are certain things we can't anatomically do [like breastfeeding], but changing diapers is one of the things we definitely can do, and we should be equal partners in our relationship," Legend, dad to Luna, 3, and Miles, 1, tells Parents.com. But when couples have to contend with public restrooms that are lacking changing tables for men, he says that "builds in the discrimination and inequality in the relationship."
That's just one reason the musician sees the push as part of a universal movement to bolster equality. "It's been eye-opening to include dads in this conversation around diapers and parenting; it's a big moment in our culture," Legend notes. "I think it's a moment that's aligned with a lot of other moments that are improving the situation for women in the world and having bigger conversations around equality. I think an important part of the conversation is sharing in parenting and other household tasks."
Even in his personal life, Legend finds he's frequently connecting with his friends about the experience of fatherhood. "My male friends and I talk about being dads more than any other thing," he says. "We talk about what our kids are doing, we're proud of our kids, we send pictures of our kids to each other, and I feel like it's an area where we bond by giving each other advice. I have some friends who have kids who are older, like 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and I have some who are having kids right now, so I think it's fun for us to just share advice with each other and support each other."
In an impressive viral clip, shared on in Teigen's Instagram, Luna negotiated with her mom for two pieces of candy, and that was a particularly brag-worthy moment, Legend notes. "It wasn't something we planned; we just felt a moment was happening, and I think our assistant started filming," he shares. "I was wowed by it myself, because I hadn't seen that type of conversation ever happen. I knew she's intelligent and a good communicator and a good listener, but I had no idea that she would be able to navigate that conversation with so much poise and calm, and she was just sitting there, holding my leg, and like, 'Two, no, three. Okay, two. Yes.' I was truly amazed. I just didn't expect that from her at this moment."
He admits that by being 3 now and being their firstborn, Luna is "just dazzling us," which puts baby Miles at a slight disadvantage. "Miles can't do anything to impress us!" Legend jokes. "He's always gonna be two years behind her, and we've already seen the first walk and the first step. But he's the sweetest kid I've ever been around. I've never seen a kid smile as much as he does, and he rarely cries, he's super-calm in almost every situation, so in that sense, he's a very impressive kid. There's so much more for us to learn about him."
The EGOT winner also finds it amusing to watch Luna and Miles interact—especially because he feels like his daughter takes after Teigen, while his son seems to have inherited Legend's chill demeanor. "He's more mellow than she ever was," he says. "She always had more Chrissy's personality, and he's a bit more of mine. It's just interesting seeing them together and seeing the differences in their personalities and how much they have in common with each of us. That's almost the definition of the excitement of being a parent—seeing a bit of yourself in your kids, but it is fun to see it all play out."
Thanks to this new Pampers and Koala Kare initiative, there's no doubt more dads will feel empowered and supported in taking on an equal share of the work of parenthood, while reveling in the excitement of it too.