You familiar with this? The dad bod? Yes? No? Answer me, goddamnit!
. . .
I’m sorry. I forgot I was writing and not actually talking to someone. That happens a lot. I need to keep reminding myself that there’s a great distance between the time I form these questions and when you answer them. And when you answer them, you probably won’t answer them out loud. You’ll answer in your head. And it’s just not polite for me to be in your head.
Some of you will answer in the comments and then there will be another distance between your comment and my response. But I will respond. To every comment. With my fingers. Because using my tongue on the keyboard isn’t as erotic as I thought it would be 20 words ago.
The point is, being a writer is a solitary pursuit. I sit alone with my silly thoughts. I package them in silly words and put them out into the world. You stop by, looking for a break from your purposeful life, and read these silly words. You flutter in like a bird to a full bird bath standing erect among ancient leaves in the middle of a clearing. Sunlight dappling down. But who is filling that bird bath? What kind of freak wants to spy on bathing birds? Look there! In that house! Is that someone in the window? There. In a bathrobe sipping coffee. He’s looking at us. He’s holding coffee in one hand, but where’s his other hand? WHERE’S HIS RIGHT HAND? STOP SPLASHING! STOP BATHING IN FRONT OF HIM! YOU’RE SHAKING YOUR JUNK LIKE A FEATHERED GIGOLO! FLY! JUST GO! GET AWAY FROM THE BEAK FREAK!
Anyway I have a dad bod. For those who haven’t heard this stupefying term, it simply refers to the condition of a man’s body after he becomes a dad. Oh yeah, and the dad bod is the bod for men to have. Otherwise, the definition is pretty self-explanatory. You could have determined that without my half-assed explanation. But then what would I have to write? You want me to just sit and watch these frolicking birds all day? In my bathrobe?
The definition is narrowed by specifying that a dad bod belongs to a man who was athletic in his younger, childless years, but now he likes the beers and the sitting. His body was once in great shape but now it has a little padding. Like he wrapped his abs in bubble wrap. Bubble wrap made of yellow fat. To protect his abs. Which makes sense. But then they go and use Adam Sandler as an example and I’m like When was he athletic? But that’s beside the point, I suppose. He’s not a bird.
The point is–why is this considered hot? I have a dad bod. I used to literally pull tons of produce around an ancient warehouse all day. I walked miles every day–sometimes those days lasted over 12 hours. In my free time, I’d go to the gym. Or run. Or play racquetball.
Despite all of that activity, I was never able to achieve the 6-pack. Somehow, I found a mate who was able to overlook my complete failure to achieve any level of male beauty. And here we are.
I still work out, but that ripped body eludes me and it probably always will. Because I also work full time and play with my kids and stubbornly refuse to stop eating. None of those are excuses crafted to explain away why I’m not in peak physical condition. The only reason I don’t have that body is simply because I haven’t made it a priority. To get that body, especially after 40, you have to dedicate yourself to the pursuit. I haven’t forced myself onto a schedule where my day begins at 5am–allowing for an hour of exercise in the morning. I haven’t created a nutrition plan to make sure my muscles get the fuel they need. I haven’t given over a larger percentage of my free time to sweat because I want to do other things; like whining.
But the point is–and here’s my point, dude–why do we have this term in the first place? Why was it necessary? We all age. Metabolisms wind down. We’re bound to get softer and slower. Every one of us. Why all of a sudden are we pointing this out with a freshly-minted term? Why is the dad bod desirable? Trendy? Why were entertainment and news sites suddenly showing us pics of topless male celebrities with doughboy middles and claiming that these guys are hot? I’m not into body shaming anyone–no one’s worth should be tied to their appearance–but why was the less-than-ideal body now the ideal for men? And why weren’t we hearing about the mom bod?
The answer is Magic Mike XXL.
The first stories about the dad bod surfaced around the time that the movie Magic Mike XXL was being teased. The sequel to Magic Mike is about a group of male strippers who get naked and gyrate as they deliver lines of deeply moving, heartfelt, Shakespearian-quality dialogue. I’m sure Magic Mike XXL will be the first movie to win a Pulitzer Prize. Of course the men in the movie have perfectly sculpted bodies. They embody the ideal in male beauty–the male equivalent of the Victoria Secret Angels. For sure, they can be lumped into the ongoing conversation about unrealistic standards of beauty and an unhealthy body image. A conversation that women have been having for a much longer time than men and at a much deeper degree. So I guess in the spirit of equality, it’s good news that we’ve taken the baby steps to give the average man the chance to compare himself and hate how he looks?
But notsofast! Just when Magic Mike XXL was set to dominate the conversation about male perfection, here pops up this new narrative saying “Wait! You got it wrong! Working insanely hard and eating just the right balance of protein to achieve the ripped body that gets all the moms to the yard is not what you want to do! Nope. No one wants that anymore. The DAD BOD is the epitome of male beauty. Here, lets drool over these topless pics of Adam Fucking Sandler!”
Coincidence? I don’t know if I believe in coincidence. But in this case, hell no. This was something created to change the conversation. To wipe down all that glistening muscle. To recalibrate those unrealistic standards back to real world settings. To shut down the lights and declare “Nothing to see here! Channing Tatum? Pffft! He is so two years ago.” To justify all of those long afternoons in the recliner.
Because men know how to make the world comfortable for men.