Today, an article titled "How to Get the Perfect Dad Bod" popped up on my Twitter timeline. After rolling my eyes and suppressing my gag reflex, all I could think about was the fact that, for some reason, the Internet is still hung up on the "Dad Bod."
In case you haven't been informed of the phenomenon that is the Dad Bod, here's a rundown: "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,'" according to Mackenzie Pearson, a Clemson University student who wrote a viral article explaining the Dad Bod.
If you're still having trouble picturing the Dad Bod, think Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Think Chris Pratt in early "Parks and Rec" episodes. Think Seth Rogen in, well, just about everything.
The Dad Bod is the happy medium between a beer belly and washboard abs. A guy with a Dad Bod isn't toned or tanned; he's a got a little bit of flab to show. But, according to Pearson, girls dig it.
In her article, Pearson missed a potential opportunity to challenge the societal stereotype that only tall, dreamy, beach gods are physically attractive. She could have encouraged men to own their physiques and embrace their natural bodies. Instead, she focused her attention on the women.
Pearson gives multiple reasons to justify why ladies love the Dad Bod. One reason, however, is more horrifying than the others. Women are crazy about the Dad Bod because, Pearson writes, "(women) like being the pretty one."
She further explains herself, stating, "We love people saying 'they look cute together.' But we still like being the center of attention. We want to look skinny and the bigger the guy, the smaller we feel."
This completely objectifies the man's body. Pearson claims the Dad Bod is just an excuse for a woman to feel like the more attractive one in the relationship. Not only is that wrong and selfish, it's astoundingly sexist.
The sexism that derives from the Dad Bod is not limited to men. The problem is that Dad Bod says a lot about how our society treats women.
The Dad Bod lays out what is acceptable for men and women. It reinforces the gender inequality that is present in our societal perceptions of body image. The Dad Bod makes it OK for men to sit on the couch chowing down on pizza all day. Women, on the other hand, are expected to go to yoga and count calories to get rid of their "Mom Bods." Celebrities such as Jessica Alba, Jennifer Lopez and Halle Berry are celebrated in the media for how quickly they were able to shed their Mom Bods after giving birth.
Pearson unknowingly supports this gender inequality through one of her reasons why women love the Dad Bod. She 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." She acknowledges that women have a harder time living up to society's body standards than men do. However, women shouldn't have to use the Dad Bod as a prop to make themselves feel better.
There are people who enjoy the aesthetic of the Dad Bod, and there is nothing wrong with having a Dad Bod or like the aesthetic. I personally don't mind it one bit. Having a bit of cushion on your belly is nothing to fret over.
The entire Dad Bod craze just shows how our society has to point out the difference between men and women. Men can down a six-pack and develop a little flab, while women are expected to have supermodel physiques. No one is writing an article titled "Why Men Love the Mom Bod," because our society praises mothers that are MILFs.
Why can't we just accept our bodies? As a diverse culture, we have a wide array of body types. The lesson we should learn from the Dad Bod phenomenon is that we should all try to be happy with our bodies. We should make healthy choices and live our lives in a way that makes us content. We should love ourselves instead of trying to shape our bodies in a way that mirrors an Internet fad, a fashion magazine, or the desires of our significant other.
Easier said than done, I know. But maybe, if we start by celebrating all different types of bodies instead of picking and choosing which ones are to be considered "attractive," we can slowly learn to accept ourselves.