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The Problem With The ‘Dad Bod’

The Problem with Dad Bod

What is this whole “dad bod” phenomenon? Have you heard about it? It’s been making the rounds of cable and network news shows, even “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” had a (brilliant) segment about it. Time magazine broke down the economic case for the dad bod, explaining that some women would rather have guys with imperfect physiques but large bank accounts.

Here’s the deal, if you’re not following along yet: Mushy bodies, especially a thicker middle, are now cool. As long as they are on men. Who don’t even have to actually be dads.

Among the kid-less celebs who are being lauded for their dad bod are Leonardo DiCaprio and Jason Segel, who, might I point out, could easily change their physiques for movie roles. Before the ink is dry on their contracts, a team of dieticians and personal trainers would be at their doorsteps.

The impetus for this movement was a March 30 article by a Clemson University student who wrote that “girls are all about that dad bod…The dad bod is a nice balance between a beer gut and working out. 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.’” Apparently, the student wrote, frat boys are loving this.

Duh.

READ: Battling the Nagging Feeling That My Body Isn’t Good Enough

But why are college girls? In one of the sadder parts of the article, the student answers that: “We don’t want a guy that makes us feel insecure about our body. We are insecure enough as it is. We don’t need a perfectly sculpted guy standing next to us to make us feel worse.”

Where’s the article by a frat guy saying he doesn’t need a perfectly sculpted girl standing next to him? Yeah, I’ll keep searching Google for it, too.

The best line in Kristen Schaal’s shtick on “The Daily Show” came after she recapped some news anchors giggling about their jiggling: “They’re all having a really good belly laugh. Well, the guys are. If that woman had a belly at all, they would not let her on that show.”

It’s funny because it’s true.

Instead what we see in the media are articles chastising Kelly Clarkson for not immediately shedding her baby weight. Almost a year after having her daughter, the big story about the singer (see the May issue of Redbook as Exhibit A) is how she doesn’t care what people say about her weight. I get that this is supposed to inspire women to worry less about what people say about their looks, but the fact remains that 1. Clarkson’s weight is a story and 2. She has to keep defending it.

Clarkson isn’t the only famous woman eschewing unrealistic standards of perfection for women:

1. Melissa McCarthy stars in a new action/comedy movie, “Spy.”

2. Tina Fey stripped down to her Spanx on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”

3. Model Chrissy Teigen, who’d presumably have little reason to worry about her bod, posted a photo of her stretchmarked thighs on Instagram with the caption, “Stretchies say hi!”

Still, I can’t quite picture a time when photos of bikini-clad women with muffin tops will be widely and publicly cheered and not jeered.

Brian Moylan gets it. He wrote about the Dad Bod, also in Time: “It continues to reinforce inequality about what is acceptable for men and women. While the ladies have to go to Pilates and watch every single calorie, guys are free to let themselves get lazy, chow down on all the chips and guac they want, and still expect their prospective mates to be fit.”

Please note: I am not saying that we should return to the old days (read: two months ago) when men had to be cut/ripped/whatever to be hot. I’d rather this new acceptance not be a fad, but the new normal–for both sexes. Although a double chin on guys is now considered sexy, a double standard never is.

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