You may be wondering: “What, exactly, is a dad bod?” It’s a slang term for a slim, but soft physique. While not quite overweight, this body type is not fit or toned. It’s also a marker of age and lifestyle. Where a child-free, single man has plenty of time for meal planning and gym hitting, a married father with a full-time job is unlikely to devote as much time to his physical appearance.
Long before the term “Dad Bod” emerged from the zeitgeist, I was a fan. Admittedly, I’ve never understood the allure of the super-toned, extra muscly male. To me, I always felt to be with someone that image-conscious, I would have to be that image-conscious. Sure–if I was the type of woman who loved kale smoothies and spending hours at the gym everyday, Mr. Abs would be a great fit. I’m more of an “unbutton your jeans while eating chips on the couch” type of gal. I’m not a slovenly monster, but weigh-ins and calorie-counting are not my favorite activities.
Clearly, physical appearances do not mean much to me–and I’m not alone. In fact, most women report that kindness and a sense of humor are the most desired qualities in a partner. According to Business Insider, if you’re very good looking, women may not even consider you a long-term partner. Most women relegate Hot Bods to flings and short-term relationships.
This does not mean you can’t be a hot Dad and still have a successful marriage–just look at Chris Pratt! He’s gone from Dad Bod to Hot Bod and his gorgeous wife, Anna Faris, has been by his side through it all. I enjoy the concept of Dad Bod the same as I enjoy projects like The Shape of a Mother–they both present realistic bodies of parents. As much as Us Weekly and Instagram would like us to believe Moms should have flat tummies and perky boobs six weeks after giving birth, it’s not real. It’s not even real for those celebrities–with a fleet of photographers, Photoshop editors, lighting assistants, hair and makeup teams, and so much more- it’s easy to make a great photo. It’s actually impossible to look that way in your everyday life.
With our “Facebook Ready” culture, we can get lost in professional photo-shoots styled to look like candid images. We can retain perspective by valuing the ordinary. Recently at a child’s birthday party, I heard a little boy asking his mom if his Dad had “a baby in his tummy”. His Dad had gained a little weight over the last couple of years and his stomach had started to soften–not unlike the second trimester of a pregnancy. Fortunately, his Dad laughed it off. He had embraced his Dad Bod as a battle scar from parenthood. I would love to see more women embrace this attitude toward our bodies, our tummies, our stretch marks, our breasts–they are beautiful, functional and literally life-giving. We should celebrate and find our strength and humor from them. We should not hide or shame these parts of our bodies–these parts of ourselves.
I appreciate Dad Bod for the way it celebrates the average individual. The Dad Bod is a symbol of the hard-working, devoted fathers and husbands who value their family and their time above their body fat percentage. Our “Mommy Pooches” symbolize our selflessness, dedication, and power as mothers.
These bodies, these tummies, these backs, these chests, these thighs, these marks, should not be shamed and hidden away. They can be celebrated and even revered. My hope is that the Dad Bod makes the Mom Bod more loved, appreciated, and accepted in our culture.