I have a 'dad bod', and I’m OK with that. Life without washboard abs is nothing to be feared

Life without my sanctimonious, body-sculpting gym routine is so much more fulfilling

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The Independent Online

The internet is always coming up with silly words that would have Noah Webster spinning in his grave. Remember when taking a picture of yourself didn’t have a name? It was a simpler, happier time. Yet every so often, a new vocab word crawls out of the Twittersphere that actually carries a bit of weight.

Have you heard about “dad bods” yet? If not, you’re probably already conjuring up the right images. The idea has been floating about online for a while now – but now it has set the web alight thanks to an essay by American university student Mackenzie Pearson. So, what is a dad bod?

“The dad bod is a nice balance between a beer gut and working out,” she explains.

“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.”

If you need help visualising, think Jason Segel or contemporary Leonardo DiCaprio.

All of a sudden, women (and men) all over the world are coming out to voice their ardent support for the idea that it’s okay, even sexy, for men to let themselves go a little bit.

It’s about time.

Until now, we haven’t had very many grown-up conversations about how men are made to feel bad about their appearance. Okay, so it’s not easy to sympathise with the woes of body-conscious men when women are constantly pressured into conforming to unrealistic standards of what society considers 'beautiful'. Only an idiot would argue that men are under anywhere near as much pressure to look their best. There’s no competition here whatsoever.

But the pressure is certainly there – and for whatever reason, we just don’t seem to talk about it very much.

No matter what gender you are, society doesn’t want you to be happy about the way you look. Nobody looks flawless to everyone. Yet against all explanation, we incessantly chase after this fleeting social construct of the ‘perfect body’.

That’s why I grew up under the impression that life without washboard abs was something to be feared. I used to run ten miles a day, waste countless hours on a bench press and probably consumed enough creatine to do some sort of long-term internal damage. Thankfully, life eventually disrupted my sanctimonious, body-sculpting gym routine.

Nowadays, between my commute, day job and doing my best to be a half-decent father and husband, I’m lucky if I get to the gym once a month. I’ve got bigger fish to fry, and there’s simply not enough time in the day. I’m only 24, and that brilliant six-pack I spent years cultivating now only shows up if I flex so tightly that my eyes go a little bloodshot.

The funny thing is, I’m okay with that. Being a dad is the most important job in the world – and it’s infinitely better than being an underwear model. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t developed the strange habit of cursing violently under my breath at David Beckham posters as I file past H&M on the way to work.

Nobody aspires to be average – society won’t let us. But sometimes, if you want more in life than a picture-perfect body, average is precisely what you’ve got to settle for. Neither men nor women are regularly commended for making that decision. Yet if nothing else, this dadbod craze serves as a much-needed reminder that prioritising life over beauty is something men should aspire to. In some strange way, it’s even considered sexy.

I don't know about you, but I’m certainly willing to drink to that.