The Dad-Bod: An Evidence of Inequality, NOT Insecurity



Men all over the world cheered last month when the internet was abuzz about the new phenomenon which seems to have swept the world. Women, the articles online claimed, are no longer into rock stone abs and killer biceps. Instead, they are choosing men who are little pudgier: dubbed the “dad bod”.

In case you are not sure a “dad bod” is, it refers to an average to pudgier physique, somewhere between fit and flab. There are muscles, but they are covered in some fat so that they give the man a somewhat larger physique, but the muscles are not rippling. 6-pack abs are a No No: Dad bods sport a belly, but not too big.


Pic from Young Beer Bellies

As Mackenzie Pearson explains:

The Dadbod is a nice balance between a beer gut and working out. The Dadbod 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.’

The Dad Bod: An Evidence of Inequality, NOT Insecurity

Many have stood up to voice their disgust, calling this a “sexist atrocity”. Male beauty, they say, should be measured the same way women are measured: in perfect bodies without an ounce of fat, and obsessive calorie counting to achieve that.

Naysayers exclaim that the celebration of this male physique (or the lack of it) stems from the insecurities of women: if their male partners are too attractive, women would feel inferior and worry that they are good enough for them. Hence, to make themselves feel better, they lower their expectations, going for the fat-boy next door, to make feel better about THEMSELVES.

Think about it. The dad bod phenomenon is not about insecurities. The people claiming it is so is, ironically, are being sexist. They are saying that it is a societal norm for women to feel bad about themselves. What it is though, is about inequality. More than anything, the dad–bod phenomenon has once again made clear the gender inequalities that exist on how we view beauty.

The 21st century is not kind to women. Media pressure has compelled us to believe that in order for women to be attractive, they need to be flawless and slim; Men, on the other hand, can be imperfect with wrinkles and poor skin, and yet be attractive. Ageing is a natural process, but absurd double standards exist between men and women. This creates immense pressure for women to look their best, while men are let off the hook. A woman with wrinkles is called “old, haggard, tired”, while a man will be described as “mature, rugged, sexy”.

Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz are photoshopped to look like porcelain dolls, while Michael Fassbender and Javier Bardem retain their lines and pores in the posters of The Counselor


The dad-bod craze is not a new phenomenon. It has always existed. But it is only now that it has become a craze on the internet.

The Psychology of Attractiveness

Men have always been visual creatures: They judge beauty based on appearance. Women, on the other hand, are more emotional. Men who they find attractive may not always be the most drop-dead-gorgeous, but rather, who they think they can connect better emotionally with.

A study done by clothing label Jamaco showed that men think that women preferred a more chiseled physique, while women actually prefer someone who is more cuddly and well-padded. The study revealed 2 things: that insecurities affect not only women, but men as well, and that ultimately, women tend to look for a partner who is not only physically attractive, but something who they think will make a good father as well – and their idea of a good father is not someone who may be spending hours in the gym everyday to maintain a killer bod, but someone who is easier on themselves. Perhaps, such a man would also be easier to get along with, and focus more on other things, such as being a good father.

David, long hailed as the perfect specimen of male beauty
David, long hailed as the perfect specimen of male beauty

An interesting point to note: a man with a larger built is still viewed as being more attractive The dad-bod is muscular, just not ripped. A larger physique is: associated with being stronger. It has an evolutionary basis: ancient men had to protect their families, and fend off wild animals and other tribes. To do that, they had to be strong enough.

The dad-bod craze an internet fad, but we know that even after it fades away, the attraction towards men of a larger, more cuddly physique is here to stay.