Nothing manages to draw as many chuckles as it does frowns as the infamous ‘dad bod.’ Quietly entering the lexicon of college students everywhere last year, it is used to describe a blanket body-type that bridges the gap between the guy with a beer gut who discovered the gym a few months back. The idea of the dad bod is a fun topic of debate at parties, and it seems like I hear a new reason to love it or hate it every time the term comes up. Now that the steam behind a new member of the repertoire of college slang has died down, I felt the time was ripe to finally take a critical look at this phenomenon.
Nobody knows where the phrase itself began, but historians have postulated that the phrase crossed the Greek-GDI (‘god damn independent’, for those of us who aren’t Greek) divide at some point last year, and found itself being used when swimsuit season rolled around. After cresting the initial hill of resistance from lifting bros and women claiming absence of reciprocity in body positivity, the dad bod enjoyed a steady growth period. Some conspiracy theorists claim this was the result of a series of female shills in support of the dad bod as a joke or through brainwashing, but none can be certain.
By late May, any major news and clickbait hub from The Economist to Buzzfeed had dipped their finger into the pie, and the dad bod was beginning to collapse under its own cheese curd and PBR weight. Debates popped up on long-faced topics such as the exact parameters of a dad bod, the potentially misogynistic nature thereof or the future implications of heart disease that dad bods brought along with them. My beloved dad bod that I had recently grown jokingly fond of was falling under fire. Like many of my fellow dad bod owners, I watched an ironic cultural staple to the collegiate male turn into a pejorative that took the wind out of my doughy sails.
The good news is that there is something to be salvaged from the ashes of the dad bod’s meteoric rise and subsequent re-entry into the atmosphere. The dad bod stands as one of the first and only examples of mainstream attention to body image in men. I can’t think of any recent causes that have been more widespread in bringing up a dialogue of body positivity in men, despite increasing pressures for young men to look a certain way in our hyper-masculine society. From the star power and mainstream knowledge of the dad bod, we can breathe new life and bring a renewed fervor to feminist topics and the patriarchy.
The dad bod showed me that men were willing to take a stand for an issue that affected themselves, and I’m a firm believer that, with the faintest of introductions to basic feminist ideology, some of these very same men could rally behind the same causes for women. Before you burgeoning dad bod owners crumple up your paper in anger at how a men’s issue can become a women’s issue, think about how patriarchal society has created unrealistic expectations out of both men AND women.
Through the media, a collective thought process of disgust towards people who don’t fit the mold created in television, films and celebrities has been born, regardless of your sex. By helping to dismantle the power structures that tell us how to look or dress in respect to our bodies, men can stand with women in creating a more positive outlook for everyone’s future, regardless of personal beliefs of image.
Unfortunately, the momentum the dad bod provides could also be used to descend further into the self-congratulatory orgy found only in the likes of fedora-clad Men’s Rights Activists on Reddit. It can be used as ammo to continue the hilariously wrong narrative of men being constantly exposed to sexist discrimination, and worse.
Instead, I hope for a newfound understanding between the sexes, and how feminist issues aren’t limited to women. The bridge won’t be built overnight, or through one opinion piece, and the onus is largely on the men to take interest in feminist causes.
What do you think about Sergey’s take? Are you a fan of the ‘dad bod?’ Do you think it represents just another societal allowance granted to men that females aren’t privy to? What are your thoughts? Please send all comments to email@example.com.