I must be an innocent, or they are. I only learnt just yesterday via Sophie Labelle (author of the wonderful “Assigned Male” webcomic) about Littles after she came out as one. And down the rabbit hole I went.
Little, Middle, and Big ageplay is roleplay where people live or act as a different age or role in a relationship (e.g. partners acting as parent and child). There may be some “Rule 34” and BDSM, but that’s rare. It’s a misconception (read: hateful propaganda) that this is anyway linked to pedophilia or that those involved would commit crimes. Thus far, nothing I’ve seen suggests this is true. It’s role play between adults or alone.
It’s primarily the search for “headspace” (definition 4 on Urban Dictionary), a place of safety away from the world and from responsibilities, the ability to things like playing with dolls, wearing clothes, watch cartoons, etc. Some ageplayers are survivors of abuse who didn’t have normal childhoods. Having a safe place to “play” and experience things they were denied as children can improve mental health.
I’m not a Little, but I can empathize with it. Between violence and emotional abuse at home and bullying at school, there were a lot of normal child and teen experiences I never had. Many of the social skills people learn as teens I didn’t learn until I started transitioning in my forties. In some ways, I’m still a bit naïve and too trusting, but I’m enjoying my “second teens” and “early 20s” years, and having experiences and building relationships I never had before.
In the kink community, individuals may use different labels to describe what type of activities they engage in or how they identify. In this blog I am discussing the label/identifier of little.
A little is an individual who identifies as having a child-like attitude and/or behaviour. Many littles will identify as a specific age – with ages ranging from infant to toddler to pre-pubescent to teen. Individuals who identify as an older age may call themselves middles instead of littles.
Some, but not all littles, engage in power exchange relationships or kink dynamics with individuals who identify as Bigs. A Big is an individual who is nurturing and can sometimes take a quasi-parenting role. Other titles for Bigs can include Daddy, Mommy, a variant of the two, or more temporary caregiver roles – such as baby sitter.
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I spoke with a different friend who felt they were not a little, but the more I got to know them the more I felt they had a little inside. When I mentioned it, they seemed surprised! I was curious if their little was hiding because it was hurt and didn’t feel safe. This clicked for my friend; their little had indeed been hurt by ex partners and abusers. They realized that they didn’t allow that part out – it felt too vulnerable. They didn’t connect with their little because they didn’t feel safe.
Being able to express oneself whether through kink or some other practice should be celebrated. These expressions allow individuals to feel safe and whole. This is one of the little lessons I’ve received so far from the kink community.