British Columbia·Point of View

Is the 'dadbod' trend sexist?

As a new dad in the worst shape of his life, you can only imagine Jeremy Allingham's delight to find out about "dadbod." But, he says, the whole thing is downright sexist.

Why the 'dadbod' trend could be unfair to women

Leonardo DiCaprio has been described as having the perfect dadbod. (CHP/FAMEFLYNET PICTURES)

As a 33-year-old newish dad in the worst shape of his life you could only imagine my surprise and delight to find out about dadbod. 

I was hacking around on social media when I stumbled upon a photo of a chubby-looking, shirtless Leonardo DiCaprio. Upon reading further I found out that, not only is my not-too-fat, but definitely-not-in-shape body nothing to be ashamed of, in fact, my dad body is to be celebrated and is even considered attractive to women. Amazing.

The term dadbod was popularized in an article called Why Girls Love The Dad Bod written by 19-year-old Mackenzie Pearson for the Odyssey, an American student news site. In the article, Pearson describes why dadbods are better and more attractive than the ripped variety and why women her age prefer them.

The article caught fire and has been shared 468,000 times and counting. It has also inspired thousands of tweets, and an Instagram account called CollegeDadBods which now has more than 18,000 followers. 

Is it sexist?

In the midst of the euphoria surrounding my new-found physical allure, it dawned on me that this whole dadbod trend could actually be really unfair to women and possibly downright sexist.

Michele Loughrin, a new Vancouver mom who is currently facing pressure to lose the weight she gained during pregnancy, says she was hurt to learn about the trend. (I should mention that she squeezed me in for an interview just before an appointment with a personal trainer which she had bicycled seven kilometres to get to, just for the extra exercise).

"My initial reaction was really sad and hurt, and then I just got angry and realized this is ridiculous. I think mostly the double standard [made me angry] and how difficult it is for women. You have to gain weight when you're pregnant, there's no way around it," she said. 

"But the challenge is when you need to lose the weight and you have a baby, and you need to take care of your own health and the baby's health and your family all together."

Loughrin isn't alone in her thoughts on dadbod. Megan Murphy, the founder of Feminist Current, agrees that dadbod is symptomatic of a larger double-standard in expectations between men and women.

"We have this unrealistic idea, now thanks in large part to celebrity culture, that women who give birth should be able to get back to looking exactly the same as they did before they were pregnant," she said. 

"It's not even important. These women just gave birth to human beings and there's this huge focus on getting back into shape that is never placed on men."

Would #mombod ever be a trend?

So the question we're left with is would there and could there ever be a trend for mombod and would it be celebrated in the same way dadbod has been? Take just one quick peek at the #dadbod hashtag as compared to the #mombod hashtag, and it appears not.

Under #dadbod you find a bunch of kind-of-fat dudes showing off their guts, under #mombod it's exercise and weight-loss tips.

New mom Michele Loughrin is skeptical mombod would ever be celebrated.

"Everyone should live being healthy and happy and it doesn't really matter what you look like, but I don't know if it's ever going to get to that," she said. 

"The expectation is that women are thin and when they're not, there's something wrong or they're lazy."

So despite my excitement about being catapulted into the internet's "attractive" category overnight (and sorry to rain on the dadbod parade here people) it appears as though dadbod should have to wait until we're ready to celebrate the mombods for the equally awesome and attractive bodies that they are.


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