Which would you rather have: Six-pack abs or a six-pack of beer whenever you feel like it?
Twenty-one-year-old athletes excluded, it can be difficult for adult men to maintain rock-hard physiques without some serious dietary discipline — not to mention almost daily workouts and the ability to ingest an exorbitant amount of protein powder.
Super-shredded male bodies have long been held up as the ideal in media portrayals of attractiveness, but a quick glance around any public space in North America will prove that it’s far from the norm.
Most men, it seems, value being able to eat carbs more than having a typical beach body. And judging by the explosion of praise for men who look more doughy than beefy on the internet this week, anti-fit might be hotter than fit right now.
You can thank the dadbod trend for that.
“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,'” wrote Mackenzie Pearson for The Odyssey in March. “It’s not an overweight guy, but it isn’t one with washboard abs, either.”
Pearson’s assertion that “girls love the dadbod” became a major item of discussion online after The Cut published an explainer on Thursday.
Within hours, the viral web teemed with pieces about the “more human, natural, and attractive” male body type du jour, leaving many online confused as to what, exactly, a dadbod is.
“Is ‘dadbod’ a hashtag joke or a social-sexual movement?” asked The Atlantic’s Spencer Kornhaber. “Are men really getting schlumpier, or are people just finding better ways to talk about it?”
“Can someone with ‘dadbod’ be an actual dad?” writes Slate’s Colin Gorenstein. “Are they 20-somethings who channel dad-like qualities? Are they frat bros? Is this the straight-person equivalent of discovering bears? Do they have to do crossfit? How about triathlons? Is this different than 2006′s ‘man flab’ trend? Do they like watching Netflix in the winter? And, wow, isn’t the Internet a beautiful place?”
So, we know what a dadbod looks like, sort of. But why do women love it right now?
“Girls tend to picture their future together with their guys early on,” Pearson elaborates. “Therefore, if he already has the dadbod going on, we can get used to it before we date him, marry him, have three kids.”
Elle’s Sally Holmes defends her love of the dadbod in terms of personality.
“His gym visits are meant to counteract his Chipotle visits, not sharpen his Ken-doll pecs,” she writes. “If he asks you to feel his biceps it’s never in earnest. There’s no primping, no macho peacocking.”
The emergence of the term has not come without some criticism, however.
“The problem with dadbod is that women have never been allowed to have it in popular culture. There is no mom bod type,” wrote Jordan Schultz Monroe for Red Eye Chicago. “If we are going to celebrate the imperfections of men, we must also celebrate those of women. Dadbod shouldn’t be a thing.”
“Every couple of years, some publication breaks the news that men without washboard abs are still somehow able to find a date,” according to The Atlantic. “The rise of dadbod probably marks not shifting tastes but rather shifting ways of talking about tastes, where straight women get to use the same taxonomies straight men and queer people already employ, for better and worse. ”
Whether you love it or hate it, it stands to reason that the dadbod physique will be around in the future, just as it has been in the past.
As for the term itself, well, this is the internet, where nothing stays trendy for long. Dadbod could go the way of normcore within days, leaving us with nothing but memories of some amusing dinner party conversations — and hundreds of thousands of online impressions.