The Politics of Food

Food for All But Bibs for Some? I Think Not

An increasing percentage of my friends are having babies, which means the introduction of goods such as sippie cups, baby bags and onesies into my social space. I generally welcome these child-specific items; after all, happy baby means happy parent means happy host. One item in particular seems so useful that I really wonder why humans at all stages of life don't regularly embrace it.

I'm referring to the bib, that garment that is ubiquitous in the under-five set but then mysteriously disappears as you advance in age. The one exception to this rule seems to be when eating lobster, but even then people always joke, "Do I REALLY need this?" (Yes, yes, you do.)

While it may be true that most babies are messier than most adults at mealtime and therefore benefit from a bib, it is not correct that most adults are not messy when they eat. The fact that we lay napkins in our lap to shield that area from spillage is tacit acknowledgement that food inevitably marks our clothing. So why confine protection to our crotch area? (Wait, don't answer that.)

While it is certainly important to avoid stains in the front of your pants, shielding that white dress shirt or pastel cardigan is also preferable. Sure, you can try, as I and most people do, to eat carefully and not splotch or drip on yourself. But spills happen. Why not have some material insurance against the inevitable?

That's ridiculous, you say; can you imagine a world in which every one wore bibs at every meal?

Yes, I sure can. It would be a cleaner, richer and more cohesive world. Fewer crumbs and sauces on chairs and floors, less money spent on dry-cleaning, and increased solidarity with the toothless, speechless minority that we adore but don't always understand: babies.

So who's with me? I hereby proclaim June 11 National Bib Awareness Day. Wear one and show your support.

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Joanna O'Leary