‘Dadbod’ Craze Proves What We Already Knew: It’s Okay For Dudes To Be Imperfect

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man-with-beer-gutLast week while we were busy busting our asses in the gym, squeezing into Spanks, and skipping dessert, a movement intended to celebrate diversity in mens’ bodies was growing strong. The movement? Dadbod: a celebration of imperfect male bodies started by a 19-year-old college student at Clemson University.

According to Buzzfeed, the term ‘dadbod’ wasn’t coined by college sophomore Mackenzie Pearson, but she is the one responsible for bringing it to the internet via a newly viral essay she wrote in March called “Why Girls Love The Dad Bod.” According to her essay, dadbod is the balance between a beer gut and working out; that average, soft body most people get from not even trying. She writes:

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.

She then lists a few reasons why women love the dadbod. The reasons are as heavy on substance as you might expect, citing things like how unintimidating soft male bodies are and how dudes with dadbods make it so we (women) get to be “the pretty, skinny one” in photos. They’re shallow and problematic at best, rooted in heteronormativity and stereotypes about both male and female bodies and how they should fit together, but that’s not even what bugs me the most about this whole dadbod thing.

Buzzfeed did a separate post about how dadbod is the body type to which all men should aspire that was basically just photos of people like Jack Black, Jason Segel, and post-gut Leonardo Dicaprio that closed with the line:

Dadbods we salute you in all your lumpy, soft, hairy glory.

Imagine a similar post about women. It’s difficult, isn’t it? It has a lot in common with unicorns and the tooth fairy and magical little leprechauns in that it doesn’t fucking exist. Mombod is not a thing. It’s not even a thing for women who’ve had children, let alone college-aged women who’ve never been pregnant.

Mombod is reviled. It’s the thing you see in ‘before’ photos and on the cover of magazines with teasers like, “You’ll never guess who let themselves go,” or, “Guess who this cellulite belongs to?!” ‘Mom’ as a word is synonymous with sexless and uncool, and everything to do with us is an insult: mom body, mom jeans, mom hair, mom car. Where’s our free pass to eat pizza and beer and look like we enjoy it? Where’s our invitation to look normal and be okay with it?

Pearson credits herself with starting a movement for positive male body image, saying, “I don’t think our culture realized we need [it].” That’s because we don’t need it. Sitcoms and movies are full of dudes with dadbods who are not only married to thin, conventionally attractive women, but feel entitled to demand that women look that way, and that sentiment carries over to real life. Men are allowed to look, act, dress, and groom however they wish while simultaneously demanding women do whatever it takes to look like Kardashians and blow-up dolls.

The fact that ‘dadbod’ even took off is a testament to how much body respect men already get because similar efforts by women to love their bodies and inspire body positivity are met with lectures about health and people saying we’re ‘promoting obesity’ for the simple act of not hating ourselves. Men shouldn’t be maligned for the way they look, but neither should women. Instead of celebrating husky dudes who make us look thinner in photos, maybe we should put more emphasis on changing the bullshit beauty standards that require us to look skinny in the first place.

(Photo: PERRENS / Getty)