cw: discussion of DDLG/CGL; brief, non-explicit mentions of dark ageplay and other associated things
When I first began to explore kink and D/s, I found a lot of info about DDLG, or Daddy Dom/Little Girl, dynamics. I was both intrigued and apprehensive. A lot of things resonated with me. There were articles that I reread repeatedly. Some things even in those articles didn’t suit me, however, and when I did more research, some of it was even more distressing. There were things I didn’t care for, and things I found triggering.
At first, I completely rejected the “little” label. I felt that if I wanted any of it, I had to go for all of it, and some of it was definitely not for me. Eventually, I realized that wasn’t the case, and “little” still felt right for a lot of what I was…but I was still hesitant to claim it for myself, because of my great and mighty fear of Doing It Wrong. Maybe if I didn’t do it right, someone would call me out and tell me I wasn’t really a little. Maybe they’d be right.
The DDLG (or its gender-neutral counterpart, CGL or “caregiver/little”) dynamic is a polarizing one for vanilla folks and kinksters alike. People wrongly associate it with pedophilia, or find littles annoying, or whatever. But it isn’t criticism from outside the community that gave me pause. Enough people accept or enjoy the caregiver-little dynamic to offer the hallmark of any large community: Really Intense Opinions, often with some variation of “You’re not a little unless…”
You know the style.
You’re not a little unless you regress. You’re not a little unless you wear cute clothes. You’re not a little unless your partner is older than you. You’re not a little unless you participate in dark ageplay. You’re not a little unless you’re completely non-sexual.
Above all, the story plays out that you’re not a little unless your littleness looks like mine. And that’s merely what’s stated upfront! There are also implicit assumptions that you might find if you’re looking up DDLG or CGL for the first time, on Pinterest or Tumblr or Google image search.
Littles are all thin white girls who wear their hair in pigtails and wear cute onesies. Littles are all into diapers and pissplay. Littles all date Daddies, who are handsome white men in the peak of physical and mental health. Littles are helpless at all times, have few or no responsibilities, and eat nothing but macaroni and chicken nuggets.
Look, don’t get me wrong. I have some preferences myself. I’m not into ageplay or regression; I consider my ‘littleness’ a facet of my personality, one that isn’t always at the forefront but still present even when I’m doing grown-up stuff. I’m also extremely triggered by dark ageplay, slightly annoyed by babytalk, and just not interested in piss. (My spouse needed a catheter for a month. If there was any time to discover some latent interest in piss, it was then. Sure enough, it never showed up.) I like being of service just as much as I like being coddled. As for the image, well, I’m fat; my dominant is nonbinary and attracts health issues like a lightning rod made of immune system; I wear my hair short and dress vaguely gothy. I’m definitely not one of those darling littles from Tumblr or Instagram, with perfect skin and shortie overalls and cute “Daddy and me” conversations typed up on a pink background.
Does that make me a bad little? Does that make others bad littles?
Your kink is not my kink, and that’s okay. Your kink does not resemble my kink, and that’s also okay. And my littleness does not detract from yours, nor does yours detract from mine.
Littleness, for me, is a part of my soul that I often feel the need to conceal. I feel it as the giggly, goofy part of me, clapping hands because I’m about to get a spanking. It’s the part of me that never got over the sheer, all-consuming excitement of visiting the toy section of Walmart. It’s the part of me that’s clingy and needy when I’m sad or sick, and wanting someone to coddle me. In its rawest form, it’s me saying, “I’m vulnerable, and I trust you enough to show you how vulnerable.”
Whether I’m coloring on the floor while Daddy does grown-up art, or picking out a vibrator that’ll probably suck but it’s pink and sparkly, or curled up on the bed clutching a plush dinosaur, my littleness is on display in a way that I find comfortable and satisfying. But I’m no less little when I’m wearing a Victorianesque top hat and making balsamic chicken like some kind of adult person. And if I’m working on my sex blog, sending reasonably professional emails, writing tentacle smut, and describing a vibrator’s effects in graphic detail, rest assured that I’m also signing contracts with a puffball pen. It’s all me, and the line between little me and adult me is blurry if it exists at all; I behave appropriately for a given situation, but it doesn’t remove the overlap.
But even if none of that was true, even if I kept all those things separate, and littleness was a hobby I took up for an hour every weekend? Doesn’t matter. I’m a little because I find that a phrase I identify with, and CGL is a relationship dynamic that describes many, if not all, of the aspects of my D/s.
The caregiver side doesn’t matter, either. I call my spouse “Daddy” because we both like the playful, nurturing, but authoritative vibe that we associate with it. Their age is incidental, and their gender doesn’t apply to the traditional “Daddy” image. And for a while, neither of us liked “Daddy” in that context, but we still considered me a little, and they considered themselves my caregiver.
When you find a label that feels right, trying it on is fine, even if you don’t necessarily look or feel or act like others within the label. It may stick, it may not. But you never need to look identical to other people wearing that label. You’re never the only one who doesn’t match. You aren’t the only one who’s asexual, or who doesn’t like coloring, or who has no connection to it outside of the bedroom. You aren’t the only one who doesn’t assign an age to your littleness. You aren’t the only one who doesn’t fit in the cute “Daddy” onesies from Amazon, and can’t wear their hair in pigtails. You aren’t the only one who doesn’t identify as female.
You are you. If you’re a little, neat! Enjoy it, however it manifests. If you’re not a little, that’s cool, too. You are neither better nor worse than people who are.
So, when aren’t you a little? Well:
1. If you don’t consent to the label.
Occasionally I see annoying wannabe doms trying to assign littleness to pretty subby types. To these people I say, lovingly: shut up.
Even without that particular annoyance, if the label doesn’t resonate with you, then it doesn’t! It doesn’t matter if you’re currently wearing a tutu and you’re coloring in a Hello Kitty book—if you don’t consider yourself a little, then congrats, you’re not.
2. If you’re underage (or you try to involve underaged people in your play).
Dude. If you’re under 18 then you’re already a child, so acting childlike is, you know…not really worth a special label. And you cannot, legally or ethically, consent to kink things. If someone (especially someone over 18) is trying to convince you that you can be a little, or insisting that you should be a little, tell them to fuck off. Also, I feel like I should remind you at this point that my page is 18+.
Also, like…don’t go into full and obvious CGL mode at Build-A-Bear when there are six 8-year-olds within earshot. You can survive fifteen minutes without calling your partner Daddy, I promise. This doesn’t make you a little, it makes you a creep. Don’t involve people in your kink without their consent, and definitely don’t involve actual children.
That’s all I can think of!
So, let’s stop policing people who identify as littles, and that goes double for folks in the CGL community. There are as many ways to live as there are people in the world. In this one particular manner, as long as everyone involved is consenting, capable of consenting, and enjoying themselves, let’s just calm down and let people play the way they want.
It’s a lot more fun that way.
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Yesss! I also felt very alienated by mainstream DD/lg “culture”, I’m also not a thin white girl with pigtails!
“In its rawest form, it’s me saying, “I’m vulnerable, and I trust you enough to show you how vulnerable.””
This is so perfect.
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Thank you so much! I made this post because I think it’s the post I would have liked to read when I was first exploring CGL, and I’m glad it was relatable!
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[…] being “little”, in the stereotypical way, for many reasons. I recently read this fantastic blog by Tessa at The Queer Earthling, about the different ways to explore that dynamic and what it means for her and her spouse. It made […]
YES. Thank you, thank you for writing this.