body image · men

The dad bod? Fine. But what about the mom bod?

It’s a bit of a double standard. Last week social media for women was all about asking if we’re beach body ready and for men, it was all about praise for the dad bod. If you’ve been following social media, or even mainstream news, you’ve heard all about the dad bod. I’m not going to comment on the beach body campaign, except to point you to these body positive responses here. You’re welcome.

Now back to the dad bod. What is the dad bod exactly?

The dadbod is a physique characterized by undefined muscles beneath a light layer of flab, usually topped off with a beer belly. “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,'” explains Mackenzie Pearson, a Clemson sophomore, at The Odyssey.

The Odyssey goes on to say,

The dad bod is a new trend and fraternity boys everywhere seem to be rejoicing. Turns out skipping the gym for a few brews last Thursday after class turned out to be in their favor. While we all love a sculpted guy, there is just something about the dad bod that makes boys seem more human, natural, and attractive

See more for why women who like men like the dad bod here.

And even CBC is getting in on the picture, wondering why the beer belly is more attractive than a six pack.

Ditto Business Insider.

So the dad bod isn’t just achieved by drinking beer and nachos. It’s the kind of body that results from playing hockey or rugby, for example, and then going out after with the guys for pizza and beer. It’s muscle, yes, but with a comforting layer of fat over top.

Who has the dad bod look? Lots of male actors it turns out. Here’s Jason Segel in a very silly movie, Forgetting Sarah Marshall.


I’ve written lots here about male bodies and the heightened standards of perfection by which they’re being judged.

See Men, meet normative thinness and Whatever’s Comfortable. I also make my plea for a more forgiving standard for both men and women in the post titled It Isn’t Junk.

Which brings to me to my first point about the dad bod.

Why not the mom bod? None of the articles mention the existence of a similar attractive look for women. “Yes, she plays soccer and hits the gym, but she doesn’t say no to pizza or to sharing cookies with her kids.”

I laughed this week when a old photo of mine popped up in my social media newsfeed because one of my sons had commented on it. I was nervous. It was me in a bikini. What sort of thing would he have said? Please don’t let it be anything mean.

No. My sons aren’t mean. Needn’t have worried. He’d commented, “Mother abs!”

Here’s the photo:


And since I’d been reading all the dad bod stuff with interest, I thought about the photo in the context of mom bod. Yes, you can see muscle. You can also see it’s covered in a layer of fat. Yes, I work out but as my athlete son always says, “six pack abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.”

A few more thoughts about the dad bod. It’s all about female desire. The talk is pretty aggressively heterosexual. No one mentions the look with which it’s so obviously contrasted, the more sculpted male physique, that’s so often associated with male desire. And it’s also pretty darn het even in the name. It’s the dad bod, not the middle aged guy bod.

On balance, it’s a good thing, I guess. Once again though I wish women’s bodies enjoyed a similar, relaxed standard.