For a majority of ABDLs, their interests involve wanting to wear diapers or temporarily regress to a childlike or infantile state . A subset of ABDLs find themselves drawn specifically to feminine trappings. They may wish to play at being an infant, but take on the specific role of a little girl, even if they are male themselves. They may wish to be dressed in frilly dresses and stockings in addition to their diapers.
These are two subcategories of this part of the ABDL community: little girls (LGs) and sissies. Although on the surface they may appear to be one and the same - both like diapers and dresses, after all - they are actually two distinct groups with very different motivations.
Getting to Know Little Girls and Sissies
What is an LG?
Little girls are adult babies or ageplayers who take on a female identity when they regress. They enjoy roleplaying as little girls of all ages, from babyhood to the teenage years. Although the majority are male, there are female LGs as well.
LGs may enjoy more female-specific activities than ABs such as wearing dresses and other pieces of girls' clothing, having their hair or nails done, playing with dolls, or watching TV shows intended for little girls. These are just a few examples; as with ABs, the possibilities are almost endless. The defining characteristic of LGs is they take on female identities when they regress, regardless of their adult identities.
What is a Sissy?
Sissies, like LGs, enjoy wearing female clothing. However, they do not typically regress while dressed up, but maintain their adult mindset. They might enjoy the embarrassment of wearing girls' clothing or the fact that they are subverting gender norms, but they do not return to a child's mindset during their activities. Diapers are usually involved with sissy play; dresses, plastic panties, other articles of girls' clothing, and possibly bondage equipment may also be incorporated . The key distinction is that while a sissy will cross-dress, they maintain their adult, usually male, identity.
Why Might Someone be a Little Girl?
A Desire to Reach a State of Innocence and Beauty
Little girls are often seen as an archetype of innocence . In the collective mindset of society, young girls represent a powerful image of being free of the ugliness and challenges of the world. They embrace everybody, always have a reason to smile, and find joy in picking flowers and playing on the swings. Childhood in general is often envisioned this way, but while boys are often seen as being more rowdy or energetic, girls are perceived as being loving and gentle. They're "Sugar, spice, and everything nice," versus the "Snips and snails and puppy dogs' tails" represented by boys.
It's worth noting that these distinctions are fairly flimsy in real life. As any adult who has spent time with children can attest, real little girls are far from angels much of the time! The image of little girls as innocent and kind is largely constructed from our culture. Even a quick glance at movies and television shows for girls, or reading books for girls, consistently presents a picture of girlhood as more emotional, more sensitive, and more innocent than it actually is. Well-known examples include Alice from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Ramona Quimby from Beverly Cleary's Ramona books, the television showStrawberry Shortcake, and virtually every Disney Princess.
Yet while this picture is grounded in stereotypes, it holds appeal for many adults. They want to break free of a world that is often cruel and ugly. And the imagined state of girlhood is an inviting break from this world. Thus, if someone has regressive tendencies to begin with, a powerful motivation for being an LG is present. For many LGs, a return to kindness and innocence is a major reason for their LG interests.
A Need to Show Emotional Vulnerability
Again, consider the stereotypes of girlhood and boyhood. What's the response to a child who is upset or crying? For many boys, the response is a pat on the back, or an admonition to "suck it up!" ironically, perhaps with the term "sissy" often given to a boy who cries too much. Girls, on the other hand, are often expected to show tears, or be more vulnerable. It's okay for a young girl to be distraught, crying in the arms of a caretaker. For an adult, this display of weakness would almost never be considered acceptable.
Thus, being an LG is an opportunity to release difficult emotions - necessary for one's mental well-being - without the barriers brought on by one's adult or male identity. Again, this does assume a somewhat stereotypical view of masculinity and femininity, but there is some truth in terms of how children versus adults, and males versus females, are expected to express emotions .
Enjoyment of Childhood Activities Considered "Feminine"
LGs sometimes state that, as children, they either enjoyed more feminine activities and toys, or wished they could have them. They enjoyed playing games such as "House", playing with dolls or using their action figures to create more family-based scenarios, or enjoyed playing "dress-up", perhaps even in their mother or sister's old clothes. As a result, feminine activities carry fond childhood memories, and they take on an LG identity to experience those memories again. Some LGs have been bullied for these activities, and want to enjoy them in an identity where it's safe to do so.
As an Aspect of a Female Identity
Although no statistically valid survey of the LG community has ever been done, there appears to be a high proportion of male-to-female transsexuals, people who are biologically male but identify themselves as female, among those who identify as LGs. In light of this, it is possible that being an LG could be part of larger questions about one's gender.
This isn't necessarily the case. There are both cisgendered male LGs and biologically female LGs. It also appears as though the gender identity of a person's adult self and "little self" can be different. Therefore, the fact that one takes on a female identity while regressing does not change their adult gender identity. A cisgendered male LG need not worry that he may be transexual if he is happy as an adult man.
Why Might Someone be a Sissy?
As a Means of Degradation or Humiliation in a Safe Context
For many sissies, the attraction to dressing up like baby girls is the humiliation involved. For a grown man, there are few things more humiliating than being caught wearing a diaper and a frilly dress. There is a powerful stigma for men against appearing either feminine or childish. To be caught deliberately embracing both identities would be absolutely devastating for most men, and it's this sort of humiliation that many sissies seek after.
Humiliation actually represents a fairly common sexual fetish - it is an aspect of masochism . A lot of different activities can sought out to achieve embarrassment, and sissy play is definitely one of them. Performed by oneself or with a trusted partner, this can be done in a safe way that won't cause one to be publicly ridiculed and face reprisal.
As a Desire to be Dominated or Feminized
The loss of control over themselves can be a strong motivator for sissies. Some may want a partner to force them into their sissy clothes. In addition to being humiliated, they lose their status, and the responsibilities implicit in that status. The male stereotype is that they are powerful, leaders, and in control. Being forced into sissy clothes completely destroys those perceptions, reducing them to a little infant with no power or control .
The enjoyment of this power exchange may be sexual, as with the humiliation fetish. However, it may also function as a sort of stress relief. To be forcibly removed from one's role also strips away the expectations associated with that role. In a way, it's a sort of escapism, a temporary relief from the stresses of adult life through being forced to surrender one's identity.
As a Way to Escape Traditional Gender Roles
This has been hinted at by the first two reasons; a sissy may desire to give up the power and status specifically implied by masculinity. For some, being a sissy is more explicitly about rebelling against gender norms. Some people find happiness in deliberately breaking the "rules" of gender - like being a man in a dress, for example. Being a sissy can be a powerful way to accomplish this . Overall, there is a strong element of subverting gender norms present in being a sissy - whether for stress relief, sexual desire, or a simple means of self-expression.
As Part of a Sexual Attraction to Cross-Dressing
Transvestic fetishism - attraction to the opposite sex's clothes - is a relatively common sexual fetish. This, combined with the attraction to diapers many diaper lovers have, may be the foundation of one's sissy identity. As with most clothing fetishes, this is safe and acceptable when practiced between two consenting adults.
Issues Facing LGs and Sissies
Finally, it is important to consider some of the major issues facing LGs and sissies. Like other AB/DLs, they face a range of questions and misconceptions, including some which are unique to these interests.
If a Man is an LG or a Sissy, How Does that Affect His Masculine Identity?
Many men who fall into one of these two categories worry about whether they are "really a man" in light of their more feminine roles. The answer is that one's adult gender identity is separate from one's little identity.
Being an LG affects the identity a man takes on when he regresses, rather than when he's an adult. Adult babies generally have two "personas", which they may call their "adult side" and their "little side". They will only present their adult side in public, typically. In the case of cisgendered male LGs, their "adult side" is male. They embrace their male identity and present to the world as male. It's their "little side" that has a female identity. This is a side they only bring out in private, alone or with a trusted partner. However, they still present to the world as male. One way of thinking of it is that a male LG is a man whose inner child is a girl. He is completely male as an adult, and need not worry about being "less of a man" for his LG identity.
In the case of sissies, they are still male adults, who happen to have an interest in baby clothing. They might have this interest for sexual, stress-related, or expressive reasons. However, this does not make them female. It means they have an interest in women's clothing. A man can have any number of interests and hobbies, and still be thought of as masculine. Just because his interest is in women's clothing doesn't change that fact. One's masculine identity should not be based on clothes, but on their own biology and perception of being male. Sissies often love to rattle the stereotypes of manhood anyway; it takes real confidence in one's masculinity to pull that off!
Further discussion of what constitutes an integrated male identity in light of AB/DL can be found at , and could be helpful for sissies or LGs questioning their masculine identities.
Are LGs and Sissies Connected to Real Children?
This is a common question for all AB/DLs, and the answer is no. LGs want to pretend to be children. Sissies want to be dressed as children while maintaining their adult identities. Neither of these have the slightest connection to doing anything with actual children; ABDL, sissy and LG interests are completely independent interests from such. If someone is involving children in any sort of AB/DL play, including sissy or LG play, authorities should be contacted immediately.
Do Either of These Identities Inhibit One's Adult Role?
Neither one should. AB/DLs should recognize that they're still adults, and need to embrace adult responsibilities, practicing their AB/DL interests in moderation. Sissies and LGs are the same way; if their activities are cutting into their ability to handle adult life, they need to be moderated. If practiced in a balanced manner, they can be healthy, self-affirming parts of one's life as well.
Sissies and LGs face particular challenges as AB/DLs. Hopefully, by understanding where their feelings come from, they will be able to embrace their identities and discover the happiness that comes from letting their "frilly side" out.
1. What is Infantilism?
2 .For an example, see GirlTalk: An Explanation!
3. Young Girls in Horror
4. For an example, see AB/DL Survey #1 - Joys
7. Mapping Paraphilic Infantilism and Diaper Fetishes
8. AB/DL Survey #2 Part 2 Results