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When I first read the words “dad bod,” my face twisted into an expression that I would best describe as half perplexed, half disgusted and half exasperated. And yes, I know that doesn’t add up properly, but in my head, neither did this new term.
If you somehow missed all the dad bod chatter of last week, I’ll fill you in. Dad bod is the cringey new phrase coined by college student Mackenzie Pearson in her article for The Odyssey, “Why Girls Love the Dad Bod.” 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.’ It's not an overweight guy, but it isn't one with washboard abs, either.”
To give you a picture, think Christian Bale in American Hustle. According to Pearson, all the college chicks are clamoring for it. What?
Apparently, underbelly is the new underboob, but it’s reserved for dudes only, natch. It has the entire Internet a-twitter, and TBH, it’s kind of pissing me off. After witnessing this thing go viral, I can name several reasons why it’s giving me a lemon face:
1. I don’t want to shag my dad.
Any reference to young girls becoming sexually attracted to anything with the word “dad” in it makes me want to vom. The words “dad” and “bod” just don’t go together. The abbreviation “bod” is typically used in some sort of sexual context, as in, “hot bod” or “I want your bod,” but never “We need to transport Grandma’s dead bod to the funeral parlor.” And when I think of sex, the furthest thing from my mind is my dad.
I am filled with repulsion when guys want me to call them “Daddy” in the bedroom. When they say, “Who’s your daddy?” I simply say, “Evan,” and show them the door. Incest is far from best and if there’s a surefire way to kill my lady boner, it’s bringing the image of my dear old dad into the bedroom. Let’s get something straight: if I wanted to fuck my father, I’d blackmail Ryan Reynolds into adopting me.
So when I hear that young girls everywhere are literally coveting a father figure, the yuck builds up inside me like an acute case of acid reflux.
2. Like we really need another double standard.
For decades – centuries even – women have had to put up with double standards in which we get the shit end of the stick. And this one really isn’t new, it just has a (disturbing) new name, and its recent popularization makes us feel like we’re getting nowhere fast. While women are still expected to keep our bodies tight and flab-free, it is now not only acceptable, but desirable, for men to let it all hang out.
Take Leonardo DiCaprio, for example. The star seems to have become the official face of dad bod and has been rocking a real one in recent months – yet he still dates Victoria’s Secret models and Rihanna, all of who rock the zero-body-fat-freak-of-nature bod.
It’s 2015, people. Feminism has enjoyed a resurgence of late and just when we were all starting to feel legit empowered, some underage co-ed goes and drops this dad bod bomb. We should be chipping away at double standards, not adding to them.
In true form, the ladies of Twitter fired back with force:
In response to the backlash, Pearson has written a second article extolling the everywoman physique, entitled “The Mom Bod: When We Love Our Bodies, So Will Society.” She waxes poetic about her mother’s stretch marks and asserts, “So in light of the recent dad bod craze, and the movement for male body acceptance, I want to remind society that we, too, as average women, are just as beautiful.”
It’s a valiant effort and I commend her for trying. Women absolutely need to embrace their own bodies no matter the shape, and it is imperative that we support each other until we do. The body acceptance movement is going strong, and that’s no small feat.
But truthfully, what I’m really looking forward to is the day when a Mindy Kaling-type starring in a romantic comedy is the norm and not the exception, or when frat boy types start writing articles about how they just can’t wait to get all up in a chick with cupcake gut and cellulite.
3. It actually fuels women’s insecurities.
Pearson claims that one of the main reasons she and her friends are all about that dad bod is not because they find it sexy, but because it is unintimidating. “We don't want a guy that makes us feel insecure about our body. We are insecure enough as it is,” she writes. “We don't need a perfectly sculpted guy standing next to us to make us feel worse.”
This is akin to a bridezilla choosing hideous bridesmaid dresses so she can look good by comparison. Girls just want the dude with dad bod so they can feel slightly less shitty about their own.
I get where she’s coming from. We need to love our bodies, but it’s harder to do so when we’re on the marvelously chiseled arm of a guy who looks like he works out 10 times a day. But why should it be? Dowdy men date beautiful women all the time and it only seems to make them feel better about themselves. So why can’t we do the same? Perhaps it goes back to the root problem of, say it with me now, the unattainable standards of beauty that our culture thrusts upon women.
Women are expected to maintain a physical ideal in a way that men are not, and when we can’t live up to it and a man can, we feel as though we’ve super failed.
4. Call me old school, but I’ll take Thor over Homer Simpson any day.
I imagine this is where people might freak out a little and the “unpopular” part of the opinion will strike a few nerves, but it’s true: I love me some killer obliques and that sexy pelvic man “V.”
Given my disdain for society placing undue importance on physical beauty for women, you might call me a hypocrite for declaring my preference for Adam Levine over Adam Sandler. But honestly, I’ve got nothing against regular men who look nothing like the average superhero, and by no means do I require the guys I date to resemble Greek gods. If my significant other sported a soft-n-squishy dough boy belly, I would unquestionably love him just the same.
But in terms of sheer, carnal lust factor? Let’s just be honest – women aren’t counting down the days till Magic Mike XXL because they want to see Seth Rogen in a thong.
The excuse men often give for ogling a shapely female figure is simply, “We’re men.” Well, I’m a woman, I am sexual, and I can appreciate a hot bod, too. The heart wants what the heart wants, but so does the vag, and this one wants Charlie Hunnam. No fucking apologies.
We ladies have been protesting unrealistic body ideals for years, but if you pick up a copy of Us Weekly or Maxim, it appears that nothing is changing. So maybe my willingness to shout my admiration of a six-pack is in part an attempt to at least level the playing field. Because I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t feel any less pressure to hit the gym.
Listen, I ain’t mad at Ms. Pearson. When she wrote the article the girl had no idea it would take the Internet by storm (presumably because Kevin James and other dudes of dad bod proportions caught wind of it and retweeted the shit out of it).
Before this essay dropped, dad bod wasn’t really considered a “trend,” and it only is now because the citizens of the World Wide Web have made it one. I’m sure the author meant no harm and if this is what she and her friends are into, that’s perfectly fine. Everyone is entitled to her preferences and everybody has one. But that magazines and websites are heralding dad bod as the new Michelangelo’s David? Yeah, I swipe left to that.