The Dads With 'Dadbods' Fight Back

Photo Illustration by Emil Lendof/The Daily Beast

Photo Illustration by Emil Lendof/The Daily Beast

By Brett Singer for The Daily Beast

The new desirable male body type is not pumped-up arms and a six-pack, but the ‘dadbod’ mixture of fit and flab.

What a weekend for American men. For the first time in a long time they have been eyeing their paunches in the bathroom mirror, and thinking, “Yeah, looks pretty damned good,” and ordering a guilt-free pizza.

Their new-found pride is down to Clemson sophomore Mackenzie Pearson, who wrote a piece for The Odyssey titled “Why Girls Love The Dad Bod”, which Pearson defines as “a nice balance between a beer gut and working out.” A guy with a DadBod is “not an overweight guy, but it isn’t one with washboard abs, either.”

Pearson’s simple story inspired a slew of articles, including: a debate female staffers (currently their most viewed story) a piece that says the DadBod is OK while simultaneously claiming the term is “mostly made up” (UrbanDictionary’s entry is dated October 15, 2009); and an interview with Pearson on Slate’s XX Factor, naming her “America’s Leading Expert” on the DadBod. Not bad for a college sophomore.

It’s all good news for dudes rocking the DadBod look.

NYMag’s Allison Davis shares a friend’s theory that men with DadBods are “better” at sex than their buffer brethren, “because their guts push against your pubic bone in a pleasing way.” Thanks for that image.

What I haven’t read yet is a response from an actual dad.

 “I’ve had a DadBod since before fatherhood. I think it signals a sense of inevitable defeat that women find quite attractive, or at least easy pickings.”

I’m a dad who once had a DadBod, although I called it Manhattan Chunky — fat compared to the thin-erati of this New York Island, but if I visited areas of the country where mashed potatoes with gravy are served with a side of lard and extra cheese, I was rather svelte.

I’ve never had six-pack abs, but I am currently carrying a wine barrel waist. Being a full-time dad keeps me busy; working out often takes a back seat to orthodontist appointments and filling out camp forms. There’s — in no universe should it be so damn easy to order dumplings.

In the interest of equal time, I reached out to dads and moms and asked about the DadBod phenomenon.
Dawn Cotton Fuge, a business owner, jewelry designer and singer from Perth, Scotland who is married and has two kids, asked, “Would men say the same thing about MomBods?” (Answer: yes, if they’re interested in having sex with their wives.)

Her husband “didn’t have a DadBod when we starting going out 24 years ago. That developed over time, just like my MomBod did after two babies. Of course I love it because it belongs to my husband and I love him. Would I prefer it on a man if I were single? No!” Major points for honesty there.
Actress and mother Donna Lynne Champlin told me she thinks “the DadBod is hot, because that means daddy is too busy (and tired) being an awesome, equal parenting partner with mommy to drag his ass to the gym. DadBod = family man with his priorities straight = sexy as hell.”
One dad I spoke to isn’t buying it. “Sounds like crap to me,” said Daniel Hort, Executive Producer of Onomatopoeia Art. “But if it is true,” he joked, “look out ladies, here I come.” Daniel is happily married and has two children. He says he’s been hitting the gym recently and now has a DadBod, whereas before he had, well, “a Granddad Bod.”
Eric Granof, Managing Director of, says he’s proud of his DadBod. “Since having two kids, I have been able to keep my DadBod in about the same shape as I was able to keep my young, invincible, I-can-eat-anything body.” How does he do it? “Between work, school and a whole list of extracurricular activities, I manage to keep my DadBod moving through the day at a pretty brisk pace.”
Ariel Dybner, a commercial real estate attorney practicing in New York and New Jersey, agrees.

“I make sure that I have the daddiest bod around by not having any free time to go to the gym and eating extra pizza when I pick the kids up from their birthday parties — and for lunch. Still,” he points out, “my wife must find me attractive — we have five kids.” (Mr. Dybner’s wife is an attorney; they work together.)
Writer, husband and father Mike Adamick noted the DadBod double-standard. “A guy can of course get away with having a less than Hollywood-esque looking body, but you need a Dove marketing campaign to make women feel normal about having a normal body,” he told me.

Adamick, the author of three books, including the new Dad’s Book Of Awesome Recipes, is a fitness buff, but told me that he works out “to stay healthy...not to have any type of appearance. At some point it’d be cool if all these ‘what type of body do you have or want?’ was answered with: a human one.” Amen to that.
Playwright and Clark University Professor Gino DiIorio is a father of two who runs, works out five days a week, and plays golf and softball. (I got winded just typing that sentence.) He’s always been into physical fitness, both before and after having kids.

Dilorio had never heard the term DadBod, but thinks that he may have one. “I just try to keep my weight down and stay in shape,” he said. Gino’s theory is that “the DadBod is the result of someone who lifts weights but doesn’t do much cardio or watching of the diet. So you get someone bulky carrying an extra 20.” Or in my case, Kuato from Total Recall.
Clinical social worker Philip Mehl told me, “while we had not heard the term DadBod in our house, my 2 teenage daughters [from a previous marriage] have observed that I am the only one of their friends’ dads with a six pack.”

Mehl’s response? “Who cares? My soon-to-be-husband, who has never had kids, has a DadBod and I find him quite sexy. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bitter that he never gives the beers or the cinnamon bun a second thought. The moments of self satisfaction looking in the mirror are giving way to the realization [that] I am continuing to plunge myself into some Protestant work ethic type thing. I should drink to that new found introspection but it would go to my cute, still-perky ass.”
Rob Seitelman, an actor and teacher currently living in California who is a married father of 2 girls, says, “I’ve had a DadBod since before fatherhood. I think it signals a sense of inevitable defeat that women find quite attractive, or at least easy pickings.”

Seitelman added that his “DadBod gives my daughters appropriately low expectations for future relationships, perpetuating the decline of humanity.”
Speaking of expectations, I’d like to weigh in (no pun intended) on one of Ms. Pearson’s points from her original article: “We know what we are getting into when he’s got the same exact body type at the age of 22 that he’s going to have at 45.”

Good luck with that. Take it from one who knows—it is much harder to keep the shape you are in in your 20s when you hit your 40s. Unless that shape is a pear.

DadBod may be a new-ish term, but it’s not a new concept. Craig T. Nelson definitely had a DadBod in the 1982 filmPoltergeist, preening in front of the mirror while JoBeth Williams smoked a joint. Current DadBod examples include Jon Hamm and pre-Guardians of the Galaxy Chris Pratt.

Frankly, I’d be thrilled with any of those fellas’ physiques. If’s Allison Davis is serious when she says that she doesn’t “ever want to see a defined muscle,” she need look no further than yours truly. (Not that I’m on the market. I’m happily married. Really.)

In a world where a 71-year-old Robert DeNiro can go deltoid-to-deltoid with Zac Efron, a 73-year-old man punches a bear in the face to save his dog, and guys like Chris Hemsworth exist, I honestly thought the fitness stakes were a lot higher.

But as appealing as the idea of not having to be overly concerned with my weight and still be considered attractive is, I wouldn’t go back to my 20s for anything. Nor would I give up my family. (That goes without saying, but on the Internet you can’t tell if I’m a dog.) And I should do a better job of finding the time and energy to work my wine barrel waist back to a beer can belly. DadBod doesn’t mean fatty boombalatty.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go. The pizza delivery guy is here.-