I am so tired of this. The Dad Bod is in? Have you seen these articles popping up everywhere in the past few weeks? The untoned arms and soft belly of Leonardo DiCaprio being shown as the newest body women are attracted to? It’s being called the “Dad Bod.” To quote, “While we all love a sculpted guy, there is just something about the dad bod that makes boys seem more human, natural and attractive,” Clemson student Mackenzie Pearson states in an article that went viral last month. She also writes, “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.”
Wait a second. So many things here I take issue with. Where to start? Are we really judging ourselves as women based on our male partners? Are we women really shallow enough to think we’d rather have someone softer and heavier simply because it makes us look better? Trust me, we are far more concerned with how funny and smart he is.
And since we’re talking “Dad Bod,” what about the Mom Bod? You know, the part of the partnership who actually got pregnant, gained 35 pounds (or upwards of 55 pounds like yours truly), breast fed and lost vital minerals from her hair and teeth in order to grow this perfect human inside her? No, she is still supposed to have no cellulite, a six pack, the ability to wear a mini skirt (preferably one made by Lululemon to run her marathons in), keep her nails perfectly polished and her brows perfectly coifed. And, to quote an Enjoli ad from the late ’70s, “bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never let you forget that you’re a man … ” Wait a second here. I’m crying foul. This Dad Bod thing is entirely unfair.
Last year, the world freaked out that Miss Indiana, a contestant in the Miss USA pageant, was being called refreshingly “normal” for her size 4 body, when normal, or average, truly was not the case. Within 24 hours, all the news stations found this topical and pointed out in graph after graph, image after image, that a size 4 was nowhere near normal (which I think missed the point that many women were happy to see a size 4 next to size 0s). I did wonder how it became okay to put a silhouette of the “average” woman all over the network newscasts as we discussed the female figure in a very objectified way. But here’s the thing, when Miss Indiana was called “normal,” women and men alike said “um, that’s not normal.” And oh-how-mean some said it in the world of the Internet comments section.
Turn to today: Leonardo is not looking like the typical dad bod either, statistically speaking, but where are the graphs, the photos? Where is the collective, “Actually, he is thinner and taller than the average dad bod.” Where is the nightly news making sure men know that, on average, any of them looking at Leonardo and thinking, “Yeah, that’s pretty much me,” statistically speaking, are delusional? Again, Leonardo is a taller, slimmer version of the normal dad bod. Imagine seeing a real dad bod in silhouette against Leonardo. Why is this not being done? That’s exactly what was done to women last year, right?
Oh, WAIT. We can do that right here! We can make that graphic. Men, this is not to ridicule you. This is just pointing out something that the media has missed. Somehow, actors like Leonardo are now accepted as “average Dad Bods” with no embarrassing silhouette of what this looks like in reality. But just last year, women had to put up with their average height and weight being graphed out on morning TV shows, the nightly news and articles that couldn’t be written fast enough.
Love the Dad Bod AND the Mom Bod. Embrace both shadowed photos above. If you want to change that shape, go for it. But think about how the media portrays women, and how the immediate response to the beauty queen being called more “normal” in body type immediately had news outlets around the country needing to point out what a “real” American woman looked like. Were all the “normal” women graphics, naked, but shadowed-in, really necessary? It just objectified us once again. Why has this Dad Bod article not spurned the same “normal” naked men graphics to showcase that these actors really don’t have the same body they do? Interesting how the Dad Bod is embraced, the Mom Bod is not, and how a gorgeous body of a beauty queen was deemed “normal” and then through graphics pointedly showcased that it was not.
Ladies, we still have a long way to go on many things. Today, I’m just pointing out a tidbit of two scenarios, one year apart, that I see as similar stories, handled very differently on social media and in the news. Don’t ever stop paying attention to how we as a gender are treated, how we treat ourselves and what is considered acceptable. For me, and everyone I work with at StyleBlueprint, we think normal women AND men are busy, smart, compassionate and come in all shapes, sizes and colors.