The "Dad Bod" Double Standard
By Kate Leddy--I’ve been hearing a lot about the “dad bod” lately.
Dad bod? Are we talking about fathers who may have let themselves go a little while they were busy caring for their children and wife—who surely must also be receiving similar appreciation for her mom bod after carrying a child for 9 months?
Not really. We're mostly talking about men who aren’t even dads but happen to have a body people are equating with the "dad-like" physique.
And no, “mom bods” aren’t getting nearly as much hype.
For those who had the same initial idea of the dad bod as I did, here’s what it actually is: a “dad bod” is a body type that’s recently been getting attention after this article by Mackenzie Pearson in the Clemson Odyssey went viral.
According to Pearson, the dad bod is “a nice balance between a beer gut and working out.” Jon Hamm and Seth Rogen—neither of whom are actually dads—are some celebrity examples of this body type, which can easily be achieved by occasionally working out (or not) and allowing yourself to eat whatever your heart desires.
Basically, the dad bod is the “whatever” of body types. And apparently women adore it.
At first, celebrating the dad bod might seem like a step forward in the body positivity movement because it relieves the societal pressure on men to have perfectly chiseled abs and biceps. I'm all about that.
But let’s be real. The dad bod is not really a new concept. Take a look at TV show characters like Jay and his bombshell wife Gloria in Modern Family, the nerdy men with their provocative friend, Penny, in the Big Bang Theory, and even cartoon couples like Peter and Lois in Family Guy and Homer and Marge in The Simpsons.
Unfit men’s bodies are constantly normalized by the media, especially paired with thin, sexualized women.
Pearson’s own observation of this type of pairing perfectly reflects the sexist, heteronomative issues I have with dad bods. “We [women] want to look skinny and the bigger the guy, the smaller we feel and the better we look next to you in a picture,” she writes. “We are insecure enough as it is. We don’t need a perfectly sculpted guy standing next to us to make us feel worse.”
We don’t need the media making us feel worse about our bodies, either. Yet here we are, watching the dad bod craze flood the Internet and trying to garner just as much hype about the mom bod with awesome photos like these, but the gross double-standard still remains as men gain even more of the body acceptance that today’s women did not have in the first place.
Your body should not even matter this much anyways. It’s your body. Whether or not you choose to build muscle is not a reflection of your personality, and as long as you are happy and healthy, you don’t have to worry about who is going to find you attractive.
But I’m still waiting for the day that our society actually reflects that for all genders.
I want to see a woman drinking beer and eating pizza on TV because she wants to, and not because she is that character that is “one of the dudes.”
I want to see the media celebrate new life in this world, not how quickly a woman was able to drop the baby weight (as Kristen Schaal points out in this interview on the Daily Show, we celebrate “momshells” AKA mom bombshells, not mom bods.)
I love that men are being celebrated for existing in various shapes and sizes, but I want to see the pressure to be perfect starting to lift off of women, too. Only then can the real celebration begin.
About this blogger: Kate is currently a student at UMass Amherst double majoring in journalism and public health. She is currently president of the Active Minds club at UMass, which works to raise awareness and reduce the stigmas associated with mental illness. Kate also has her own blog, PB is Better than ED.
Photo courtesy of HowBabyComic.com
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