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The dad bod is (still) having a moment - Here's why

Christina Ablahad

Posted by Christina A.

06.16.21

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The dad bod is (still) having a moment - Here's why

Do you remember when the dad bod was all the rage? Everyone was talking about it. You couldn’t get away from the conversations. Then, as suddenly as it started, the dad bod conversations faded away.

Well, the dad bod is back. It’s all the rage yet again, and we’re going to take a deep look at it.

Unrealistic standards

There’s a key reason why the dad bod keeps circling back into discussions, and it has very little to do with the dad bod itself. Instead, it’s all about unrealistic beauty standards. 

We’ve all heard some level of discussion on this topic. Female models are often subjected to digital touch-ups that present images that are literally impossible for a human being to obtain. And, when real women try to hold themselves up to those standards (or society holds them to impossible standards), it can become a big problem.

The truth is that men are also held to ridiculous standards. Go ahead and think about some of the sexiest guys in the world. If you aren’t into guys, think about who you have been told is the sexiest man alive. Do you have him in your mind? Is he shirtless? Can you see his veins popping and his chiseled eight pack?

Here’s what you might not realize. To look like that, the guy you’re picturing may have dehydrated himself for days. We can say nothing of the ridiculous diet and exercise regime that he followed for months before that moment. Even with the best nutritionists and trainers in the whole world, he still had to employ unsustainable methods to look like that. It’s a truly unrealistic standard.

As a backlash to these unhealthy ideals, people trend back towards the dad bod.

The glorious dad bod

dad on beach with son

So, what is a dad bod? We all have an image in mind. It’s a guy in his mid-30s or later (plenty of dad bods show up amongst guys in their 40s). He has love handles and no six-pack. You can see his pecks, but maybe they aren’t perfectly firm. He definitely doesn’t have tight veins sticking out like a movie hero.

That image is close, but it’s important to understand something. The dad bod is the idea of a guy who cares about his health but skips a few trips to the gym because he has other priorities. Sometimes, he has ice cream with his kids instead of sticking to a rigid diet. 

Why is it sexy?

The dad bod is sexy for a few reasons. First, it’s not the body of someone who completely let themselves go. The dad bod still looks relatively healthy; it just isn’t dedicated to epitomizing leanness and over-the-top muscle mass.

So, one reason this look is sexy is that it promotes a modern idea of health. You look fit enough without giving off gym-obsessed vibes, and that’s what it really gets into. The dad bod expresses a mentality, and the mentality of someone who has a dad bod is appealing to many people.

For a whole different reason, the dad bod is appealing because it lowers the pressure in the relationship. When you try to date someone who is a literal Instagram model, you feel pressure to keep up. If instead, you’re with a dad bod, that pressure goes down. Plenty of people find that appealing.

Realistic ideas of health and fitness

We covered this lightly a moment ago, but it’s important to emphasize the mentality behind the dad bod. It’s still a healthy physique, but it’s ok for there to be some soft edges around your body. The goal to be a living Adonis is no longer necessary. Instead, you strive to be healthy, even in your devotion to fitness. 

When you have a dad bod, you aren’t working out seven days a week. You aren’t on an obsessively restrictive diet of quinoa and kale (or whatever is popular with the kids these days). You don’t scoff and sneer at people who dare to have a beer or put cheese on their meal every once in a while.

You can embrace your dad bod. It’s ok.

chubby man working out

Mostly, the dad bod is about balance. Because you can let go of the most stringent restrictions on your health and fitness ideas, you have a little more freedom in how you live. Aside from indulging in some things you eat and drink, you can socialize more freely. You can go out with friends or family without feeling guilty or stressed. You can explore different activities without worrying about whether or not they keep your heart rate at the right level for enough time.

The ideology behind the dad bod extends to other aspects of your life. Maybe you don’t have to bring work home every day. You don’t always have to be going 110 percent. You can relax. You can live. You can get back to the roots of finding that balance in life between doing what you’re supposed to do and what you want to do.

Expanding the idea of acceptance

The real lesson of the dad bod is that our society is learning more about acceptance and diversity. You do not have to embrace a dad bod in order to be attractive by modern standards. There are many body types that are attractive and acceptable. Just like we’re learning to accept a wide variety of different diets — since no one diet works for everyone. Different physiques and aesthetics are also ok. If you have a dad bod, there are people who will find it attractive. There are also people who won’t, and either way, you’ll be just fine.

06.16.21

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