In the past several years, we’ve seen the rise of the so-called “dad bod” — the soft, slightly overweight male figure, typically descriptive of a frat guy who drinks and parties excessively.
This less-than-healthy physique has been glorified for all the wrong reasons and has, quite frankly, lowered the bar for men. Ironically, while our society has deemed this body attractive, we have simultaneously shunned the “mom bod” — which is far more worthy of admiration.
The Beloved “Dad Bod”
A former Clemson student, Mackenzie Pearson, popularized the term with her 2015 article for The Odyssey that highlighted the many reasons women love men with this physique. She defined the “dad bod” as one that proclaims, “I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time.” Not quite an attractive picture, yet it became quite the trend.
According to Pearson, men with a beer paunch were considered attractive because they weren’t intimidating, didn’t make women feel insecure about their bodies, and were better pals for cuddling and chowing down. So, the “dad bod” lowers the bar for both men and women. The thought process seems to be: “If he doesn’t work out, then I don’t have to work out” and “If he eats unhealthily, then I can eat unhealthily.” As for the bit about better cuddles — ladies, let’s be honest. Wouldn’t you rather be wrapped up in the arms of a man with muscles?
Men with a beer paunch don’t make women feel insecure about their own bodies.
Popularizing the “dad bod” is just another enabler for vice. In praising the “dad bod,” we’re praising the products of sloth, intemperance, and a lack of discipline. We’re giving the okay for men (and women) to overindulge, party excessively, and ignore their health. We’re also watering down the vocation of fatherhood.
Fathers are supposed to be bastions of strength for their wives, children, and communities. By associating weakness and a lack of virtue with fathers, we’re emasculating the heads of families. We’ve replaced the traditional image of a father who protects, defends, and supports his household with that of a fun-loving guy who drinks too much Bud and refrains from lifting weights.
The Shunned “Mom Bod”
On the converse, we have the “mom bod,” which, instead of being praised, has been viewed as an unfortunate consequence of childbirth. The postpartum body, we’re told, should be altered back to its original state as quickly as possible. It’s certainly not glorified. Unlike the “dad bod,” though, the body of a mother is the product of virtue and is actually worthy of being glorified.
Ashley Graham has been open with the changes to her body after having her son last year.
A mother’s body comes not from drinking too much and skipping the gym. It comes from nine months of growing a child and then 12+ months of continuing to nourish her child. A mother’s body is a home and a fount of life. Yes, it may look softer, more rounded, and perhaps a little misshapen. But it looks this way for the most wonderful reason.
A Double Standard
There seems to be quite a double standard in society’s treatment of the “dad bod” and a mother’s body. The flabby belly of an unathletic male is given an endearing term and seen as desirable. The scarred, stretched stomach of a woman who has brought new life into the world is given a pitying look and an exercise and diet plan. Why does our society seem to praise that which stems from vice, while condemning that which comes from virtue?
In its scars, stretch marks, and new curves, we can see the great love of woman.
The “dad bod” is not physically desirable, and, what’s more, it has no merit attached to it. The body of a mother may not be beautiful in the eyes of a world centered on artificiality, but it’s most certainly beautiful in that it has been given for love. In its scars, stretch marks, and new curves, we can see plain evidence of the great love of woman — a unique, sacrificial, and powerful love. Why don’t we celebrate this?
As a society, we’re quick to give a pass to self-indulgence and even quicker to turn a blind eye to self-sacrifice. The former is easy; the latter is difficult and, therefore, makes us uncomfortable. Perhaps this is why we have made an icon of the beer belly and prescribed core work and cocoa butter for the postpartum belly. It shouldn’t be so. The bodies of mothers are works of art because they’ve brought new little masterpieces into the world. Let’s start glorifying this!
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