As I was driving into work two weeks ago I was listening to the radio as I always do. My interest was piqued when I heard a term that has been circulating recently: dad bod. A local radio station was promoting a contest that asked dads to submit a picture of their “dad bod.” The winner of the contest would receive free Raising Cane’s for a year (a tempting thought; the food is fantastic!). “Wow,” I thought, “they’re celebrating the changes a man’s body undergoes when he becomes a father, and this particular contest is going to reward him for what some might consider an undesirable physique!” I’m a mom, so after three children in 7 years, my now mid-30s body is not the same as the pre-mommy days of my early 20s. The thought of taking my clothes off with the hopes of winning a prize for those undesirable changes baffles me. Regardless, the dad bod is definitely garnering attention.
Celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Seth Rogan have been given the label of having a “dad bod.” Jack Black has talked about “dad bod” with TMZ. The media can’t get enough of it, and it seems that plenty of women find the look appealing. Mackenzie Pearson described in a blog post that went viral that “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.’ It’s not an overweight guy, but it isn’t one with washboard abs, either.”
Perhaps the definition is a little bit vague. Thanks to some researchers who waded through the results of a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s survey of approximately 5,000 women and men and reported as “quantifiable” statistics of dad bod in the New York Times, found that on average, men who are fathers and are between the ages of 18 and 45 are 10 pounds heavier and have two inches extra fat around the waist when compared with their male counterparts in the same age bracket who are not fathers. To explain further, when lying flat on their backs (on a table, for example), and measuring how high the naval sits above that table (sagittal abdominal diameter), one-half of non-dads had a measurement of less than 8 inches compared to only 29 percent of dads in the age category.
As a woman it seems a little unfair that such a double standard exists. It’s not uncommon to hear the celebrity news outlets gushing over how a female celebrity like Gisele Bündchen looks when she returns to the red carpet weeks after having given birth. Luckily, there are many other celebrities who act as champions for us “regular” moms who may have a slow return to the body we had before the baby.
Whether it’s due to pregnancy and motherhood or some extra pizza and fatherhood, let’s face it, any way you slice it, for good or bad, male or female, bodies change, so let’s accept it and embrace it.