What the “Dad Bod” Teaches Us About Our Mom Bods

Image source: Megan Sayers
Image source: Megan Sayers

The rumors are true — “dad bod” is a thing and it’s here to stay.

Mackenzie Pearson was kind enough to define and fetishize the “dad bod” for us in a recent article in which she described her roommate’s fascination with the physical look of a man who has a “nice balance between a beer gut and working out.” According to Pearson, “the dad bod says, ‘I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time.'”

Slate interviewed Pearson and found that surprisingly enough, dad bod is quite popular in the young — and thus usually non-parental — crowd. She claimed that probably around “50 percent” of teens would know what a “dad bod” was and named Chris Pratt as the classic example of the alluring dad bod physique.

Laugh all you want (and believe me, I snort-laughed right alongside of you), but you might sober up when you hear that the young crowd is all about the bass for the baby daddies — but not for the women. When asked if there is a female equivalent of the “dad bod,” Pearson answered, “Hah. Probably. I haven’t really thought about the name for that.”

Interestingly enough, because “dad bod” is a fad described by female college students, it actually has nothing to do with actual dads. These women are simply lusting after men who look like what they think dads would look like, I guess? And yet, there’s no female equivalent for a potential body type that says, hey, I have more important things to do in my day than sculpt perfect muscles and even though I’m not perfect, I’m confident and still enjoying my life?

Oh, ladies, who have yet to give birth, how much you have to learn.

What’s most ironic about this so-called “dad bod” is that having a little extra junk in the trunk on a man is only further padding to his fatherhood resume. A man who can boast a “dad bod” is a man who doesn’t waste time on such frivolous matters such as working out every night — no sir, he’s too busy being a provider and taking care of his family, thank you very much.

But I ask you, is the same true of mothers?

Oh, that’s right. Moms aren’t allowed to have “mom bods.” We are supposed to “bounce back” and wear bikinis after giving birth like our bodies never housed humans and anything less might mean that we aren’t taking care of ourselves properly. To have a “mom bod” means you have somehow failed, while a “dad bod” is a thing to be proud of, to revel in, and to show off.

As I was reading about all of this silly “dad bod” talk, I had to concede that my husband probably has the stereotypical dad bod — he’s a former football player, a big guy with muscles that can tackle any physical labor, carry four kids up the stairs, but he’s also clearly not spending hours at the gym. And honestly, I do prefer a husband who is not obsessed with his appearance, but the irony that we see dads who are a little out of shape as somehow physical proof of their better abilities as a father, while moms are actually worse mothers if they’ve “let themselves go” or are not caring for themselves, is incredibly frustrating.

Of course, it’s kind of embarrassing to realize that we, as women and mothers, may only have ourselves to blame for this. How many of our husbands and partners insist that we are beautiful, tell us how sexy they find us and all we can do is shake their heads and say no, no, look at this roll, I’m so gross? How many of us believe them when they say that we have never been more beautiful in their eyes?

But the truth is, a “mom bod” is a very real thing.

A mom bod certainly doesn’t look the same for every mother, nor is it something to be ashamed of, bounce back from, or beat back into pretty little submission through rigorous exercise right after birth. A mom bod might (shocker!) actually be the female equivalent to a “dad bod,” because, you know, women’s bodies are the ones who actually grow the babies, birth the babies, and can feed the babies.

A “mom bod” might look a little softer, be a little wider, look a little less toned and shapely, but who are the ones decreeing those physical attributes to be atrocities?

Is it the males sporting the dad bods? Or are we all guilty?

For me, I’m coming to realize that appreciating my “mom bod” may not be a grand gesture or come as a result of a viral article written by a college student.

Instead, that appreciation could come from a simple Tuesday evening, sprawled out on the floor reading my kids a bedtime story and when my husband looks at me and remarks, “Isn’t it so crazy that these four people have come from your body? Actually, it’s kind of amazing.”

And for once in my life —

Agreeing wholeheartedly with him.

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