The Diaper Dilemma

A diaper is simply not that attractive. And I’ll give the manufacturers some credit for improvements in the last 15-20 years. But let’s not pretend they’re exactly couture.

In an amusing 2008 article, Slate contributor Justin Peters tested 6 different diaper brands for absorbency, wearability, longevity and style.  His experiment led him to make a couple of recommendations that I wanted to share below.

#1 – Generic is a bad idea!

“Store brands are for the sad soul who is both incontinent and destitute, and for nobody else. Conventional wisdom says that any savings that may result from using generic personal-hygiene products are subsumed by the discomfort that users must endure. This is doubly true for generic adult diapers. Unless you are impoverished, or a masochist, there is no reason to go generic. The savings are minimal, and so is the quality.”

#2 – A Diaper Should Never Be Memorable.

“My experience with Kroger was particularly memorable, which isn’t a good thing when it comes to diapers. They were about as absorbent as a drainpipe, sagging under the weight of the water and leaking like Daniel Ellsberg. Eventually I consumed enough liquor to muster the courage to wear them wet. Unfortunately, consuming all that liquor also mustered enough urine to make the testing process one of the more unpleasant experiences of my life. The diaper swelled until it could swell no more, at which point streams of urine began running down the sides of my legs.”

“Even though I had locked myself in a bathroom to perform the test, I still feel unaccountably ashamed, as if God was laughing at me—a feeling made worse by my inability to exit the diaper. The Kroger diaper features quick-release strips on its sides so that wearers can rip the sides for a quick and easy exit. But the strips didn’t immediately rip, and I just stood there stymied for a few seconds, tugging ineffectively at a wet adult diaper and feeling as if there must be easier ways to make a living. Afterward, I headed directly to the shower.”

#3 – One size fits all doesn’t.

“I also tested the [Depends] Super Plus Absorbency Adjustable Underwear variety (now with worry-free odor control!), which looked and felt like a cut-rate codpiece. While it was comfortable and largely itch-free, the main problem was that the garment didn’t fit. It is undoubtedly difficult to make a one-size-fits-all adult diaper, but I fell squarely inside the L/XL size according to the chart on the box, and I could have fit another person in these briefs. (This is speculation: I did not attempt this.)”

#4 – The super-absorbency label is meaningless.

“Like Depends, Attends was functional, but its performance certainly wasn’t great. Attends was the most comfortable domestic diaper when it came to long-term wear, but that’s sort of like saying that first-degree burns are the best kind of burn. While, like a Depends, it held about 16 ounces of liquid before structural integrity was breached, it certainly did not live up to its expected absorbency. A basic Attends brief promises to hold about 15 ounces of liquid; you would expect that the Super Plus Absorbency variety would exceed that capacity. It did not, which is no big surprise.”


The conclusion of his personalized testing was the realization that: “adult-diaper manufacturers are sort of bastards.” Knowing what I do about the instances of diaper rash, urinary tract infections and the embarrassment factor of adult diapers, I think he has a point.

So what’s the point of sharing all this? Well, it’s pretty simple – diapers are an awful, humiliating choice for managing incontinence. No one should have to deal with this kind of indignity. So that’s why we’re here. Call me schmaltzy (it’s okay, I know it’s true), but I love having a job where I know that we make a positive difference in people’s quality of life. And sometimes, I need to look at life before Men’s Liberty with humor and I like to share it. We’re Men’s Liberty and we’re redefining TMI.

What’s your story?


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