You’ve probably caught wind of the recent “dad bod” trend, the newest and supposedly “hottest” body type for men. The trend has even been recognized on The Daily Show and The Tonight Show, publicizing the middle-aged man body type that “tons of women” are allegedly attracted to.
According to this article that started the Dad Bod craze, the body type is the kind that 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.”
Hold the phone.
So you’re telling me that the new standard for “hot” guys is for them to be beer-guzzling, greasy-food-eating couch potatoes?
…Something’s not right here. I felt uncomfortable after reading the article, and after giving it some thought, I have come to a decision why.
It’s not the “dad bod” that sucks, it’s that the dad bod trend sucks.
Let’s break down why.
It sets a less-than-healthy standard for men’s self-care.
This one is a no-brainer. There is simply no way you can drink tons of beer, eat pizza every night, skip the gym, and check out perfectly at the doctor’s office. Your cholesterol WILL catch up to you. And when it does, it won’t be pretty.
I’m not saying you can’t dive headfirst into a bowl of ice cream every once in a while, I’m just saying it probably shouldn’t replace your morning bowl of Wheaties.
It widens the gap between men’s and women’s beauty standards.
It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that the majority of female celebrities all have a similar body type: thin, fit, large breasts, etc. (Beyoncé, Jennifer Lawrence), while male celebrities are not held to the same standard of fitness, or at least not to the same degree (Leonardo DiCaprio, early Parks & Rec era Chris Pratt).
So basically this…
There’s a discrepancy between society’s appreciation for the “average” body type between genders. The “mom bod,” as Jimmy Fallon lightheartedly jokes on The Tonight Show, “doesn’t work the same.”
Why not? I personally think that all bodies should be valued for more than their aesthetic appeal. After all, we wouldn’t be here without them. (Plus, the female body can literally push a human being out of itself. Tell me that’s not awesome.)
It implies women are only attracted to men that will not shatter their self-esteem.
The original “dad bod” article implied that women select their mates based on who will damage their self-esteem the least, stating: “We don’t want a guy that makes us feel insecure about our body. We are insecure enough as it is.”
I beg to differ. Women are not fundamentally self-conscious.
We are, however, socially conditioned to aspire to a set of established beauty standards. This process is termed “body policing,” which Urban Dictionary defines as “the informal practice of policing one’s physical appearance because it does not conform to social norms.” Social influences pressure women to look a certain way and to feel bad about themselves if they cannot attain that look.
Similarly, the dad bod influences men to look a certain way. Which brings me to my next point…
It encourages men to change their bodies for others.
Let me start by saying that personal preference does not necessarily qualify as body policing. You can appreciate a type of physique without expecting it of every individual.
But idealizing a body type, as with any beauty standard, reinforces the idea that you should change the way you look so that others will be attracted to you- or at the very least, you should base how good you feel about yourself on how many people like you. Neither gender deserves that kind of treatment.
Boys, girls do like dad bods. And fit bods, and thin bods, and fat bods. We like bods. But let’s cast aside all the petty superficialities for a moment to say that we appreciate each other for more than what we look like.
That being said, ignoring the problem of body policing won’t make it go away. The dad bod is just one example of a pressure put on males to look certain way, and females are given similar treatment. We have to decide, as a community, to overcome these restrictive standards of what we should look like.
The hard truth is that not everyone will be attracted to you. Rather than gaining confidence from the approval of others, work to build confidence within yourself. The best advice I can offer you is to take care of yourself and your body to the best of your ability. And then after that … you just gotta say, “Screw ’em.”