This year I’ve watched my fair share of Channel 4 documentaries and often found that they shed a light on some very engrossing and intriguing stories. Their latest offering is The 15-Stone Babies which looks at grown adults who appear very normal on the outside but at home like to wear nappies and be treated as infants. As the opening narration tells us the adult baby phenomenon is one that has often been kept behind closed doors however with the dawn of social networking sites such as Diaper Book and Diaper Space those who live their lives as adult babies can now connect with like-minded folks.
The documentary follows two couples the first being truck driver Derek and his wife Maxine who act as baby and mummy respectively however they have also found a way to turn the adult baby market into a business by setting up a nursery. The nursery runs an hourly rate of £50 with Maxine working as the mummy a job that sees her change nappies and put the ‘babies’ to bed while Derek works as her helper by preparing the baby food and making sure all of the Hello Kitty crockery is properly displayed. Their business though is under threat as the recession means that people are cutting out luxuries, such as attending their nursery, so the pair head off to the States hoping to run a yearly event for American adult babies in Orlando. Though bookings are low they do attract one client in ex-pat Ashley, a builder with a wife and a two year old child, who finds security in wearing a nappy and up until now has had to live life as an adult baby in secret therefore finding a mummy in Maxine in something new for him. Ultimately though the American nursery is a failure and back in Britain the pair branch out by having Derek become a daddy something Maxine isn’t too keen on when she discovers that one of his clients is a 19 year old who is a size 10. Later we learn that Derek has allowed the nursery to become home to those who use their adult baby lifestyle as a sexual stimulus, something that Maxine refuses to take part in, however he does say that if they can get the nursery turning a profit again he’d stop doing the sexual stuff as it isn’t something he’s particularly interested in.
Though Derek and Maxine don’t see a sexual element to their adult baby business I personally believe it isn’t the same for 27 year old Cat and her 37 year old boyfriend Justin who act as child and daddy respectively. Cat, a psychology student, met Justin through an adult baby networking site and since then the pair have enjoyed both a sexual and father/daughter relationship. For me the most disturbing part of their relationship is that Justin would like Cat to behave younger than the six year old she sees herself as and later it is revealed that he would like her to be either two or three years old. Cat embraces every aspect of her younger self by having a secret nursery in her basement full of toys and full size baby accessories while she is also a regular client of Auntie Viv a dress-maker who specialises in outfits for adult babies. Later on in the documentary we see Cat hosting a party for other adult babies an event she wants to make as fun as possible by having pillow fights and later having her guests make pizza. As some of the guests are interviewed I get the impression that they see their adult baby lifestyle as something of a sexual fetish which Derek and Maxine would be appalled by.
It is these two different worlds which make The 15-Stone Babies an odd and somewhat disturbing programme to watch as at times I felt I understood the adult baby world and at others I was utterly disturbed the whole thing. It appeared as if most of those adult babies we met had a psychological reason for doing it such as harsh childhoods or the fact they felt more secure when wearing their nappies. John, another of the adult babies, also cites not knowing his father as a reason as dressing up as a baby girl however unfortunately he looks more like a pantomime dame than anything else. Maxine’s motives for playing mummy are also explained as she has suffered several miscarriages with her and Derek recounting how the last girl she lost would’ve been eighteen by now. Similarly Cat also had a harrowing childhood living with her bipolar mother and later being abused in care her adult baby lifestyle allows her to have the experiences she never did when she was young. I can’t help but feel though that Justin is exploiting this somewhat has his role as Cat’s daddy seems slightly more sinister than Maxine’s mummy persona and the fact that he’s always trying to make his girlfriend/daughter act younger than she is made me feel fairly uncomfortable.
After watching The 15-Stone Babies I’m still not sure how I feel about the adult babies phenomenon because while it’s a completely bizarre process the majority of the people who practise it seem to feel happier when they’re wearing their nappies. For most living like babies is a way to experience a childhood that they were deprived off or to be more comfortable than they are in their normal everyday lives. I did like Derek and Maxine’s attitude to the whole thing that they didn’t want to make it sexual, even though they were later forced to, but instead didn’t want people feeling ashamed and wanting to commit suicide because of those feelings. At the same time the sexual aspect was made fairly prominent in the American scenes involving Cat and Justin and I personally found these disturbing with Justin in particular coming off as fairly sinister. I think though in terms of the documentary itself Channel 4 has once again successfully shined a light on an area that most of us are not familiar with and has gone out of its way to present both sides of the story. Even if The 15-Stone Babies did make me feel uneasy at times overall I found it a well-made and fascinating insight to those who live a completely different life behind closed doors than they do in the outside world.
What did you think to The 15-Stone Babies? Did you find it as unsettling as I did? Leave Your Comments Below.