Many babywearers identify themselves as practicing Attachment Parenting or the Continuum Concept, a distinct parenting subculture that promotes physical closeness between parent and child. However, there are many people who practice babywearing who do not identify as a part of this parenting subculture. I’m going to make the argument that babywearing is a distinct subculture all of its very own, distinct but not necessarily separate to the attachment parenting culture.
Wikipedia defines a subculture as
…a group of people with a culture (whether distinct or hidden) which differentiates them from the larger culture to which they belong…
We are, most of us, part of a child raising culture. However, babywearing is a fully fledged subculture within the broader group. We are externally differentiated from other parents who choose to love their kids in the stroller, we internally differentiate ourselves from other parents by calling ourselves babywearers.
Wikipedia goes on,
Members of a subculture often signal their membership through a distinctive and symbolic use of style, which includes fashions, mannerisms, and argot. They also live out particular relations to places…
Babywearers as a group are distinctive to say the least. We are distinct in our choice of carrier and we signal our membership with the secret handshake otherwise known as “jazz hands”. We also have particular relations to online places. We have a set of babywearing values (safety, durability, versatility), we have our fashions and style (pamir, silk slings, scandi mei tais), we also have our own argot- secret language. Why do you think there’s a dedicated acronym page at BCD? Who could make their way through the BWCC, WPBC, RUB, KC, SB and ABCs of BWing without it if they hadn’t belonged for some time?
Do you ever find that babywearing has become a part of your identity? You may or may not practice attachment parenting, you may or may not identify with a particular parenting style at all (apart from the “love your kids as hard as you possibly can” philosophy with which all parents can identify). Since you’re sitting at your computer reading this blog, though, you do identify with babywearing. You may identify yourself as a babywearer.
How many times have you taken the stroller out, met another person wearing their child and inwardly rolled your eyes at yourself? You’re a babywearer. And you know it.