Online life has a hyper-realized version of the old ‘supply and demand’ adage. The vacuum of online content, the need for clicks and the desperate clawing of people and their ‘hot takes’ (we’re at the point where those words should be banned, people) means that new abstracts and concepts are conceived constantly to satisfy the digital maw. It’s fast food for the soul… which now that we’ve brought it up is part of the reason we’re here today within the confines of this article.
Dadbod. Say it once or twice. Dadbod. Now say it a few more times. Dadbod. It’s a funny one, isn’t it? Funny enough to have been propelled into the social media buzz stratosphere and even zoomed ahead to have been dubbed THE hot fashion trend of the day/week/month/year/aeon (delete as appropriate). All of a sudden we’re getting acres of online grassland being used to graze thousands of new opinions. Well, here’s another. We didn’t say we weren’t hypocrites.
We can thank/blame this New Wave of Dadbodism on a small, once-innocuous article by Mackenzie Pearson on The Odyssey, a news and opinion site aimed at campus dwellers across the USA. As Mackenzie explained, the Dadbod – a combination of beer, brawn and a half-assed dedication to exercise – gives off the sense that here is a guy who can throw down and be a gluttonous fuck like the rest of us, but still temper it with at least *some* physical conditioning. It strikes us a rather primordial sense of attraction; the big guy out on the hunt, but with one eye on health and security.
Of course the notion that bigger men can be sexy isn’t exactly new. It’s just never been given a social media friendly moniker before. The debate about whether being fat is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ has an astounding longevity and a bitter, recriminatory future ahead of it, but we can say with some confidence that when it comes to carrying a little extra weight, men have a little more slack – no pun intended – than women do. Ultimately it’s ironic that there’s a thin line between ‘Dadbod’ and ‘obesity’.
But who are the main purveyors of this all-natural-no-effort look? At the rate humanity is expanding, pretty much any male over the age of 35. The internet cites Dadbod Ground Zero as hidden in the folds of people like Seth Rogen, Jason Seagal and – incredibly – a certain Leo DiCaprio. Honestly, if DiCaprio is deemed as a flabby and middle-aged then what hope is there for us mere, ugly mortals?
But while #dadbod became a source of humor – with more than a few “Dadbod and proud” posts – interesting debate has surfaced around it. Buzzfeed did their usual hyperbolic trip and came close to declaring Mckenzie leader and savior of the Universe. Comments range from calling the term transgressive, a fightback against years of barbs aimed at bigger women or – as The Atlantic so succinctly put it – “A catchy name for your physique doesn’t mean you’re special; it means that finally, you’re like everyone else”. And hey, maybe it’s about time.
It’s a funny old time for the concept of body image. Sizes once considered templates are being wrenched out and replaced by shifting standards and measures. That’s Not A Bad Thing. But then given the fur that flew with the misjudged Beach Body Ready billboard that had a great number of people up in arms, can we really turn around and push a new trend that – as Mackenzie’s article states – serves the notion that “we still like being the center of attention. We want to look skinny and the bigger the guy, the smaller we feel and the better we look next to you in a picture”? Well… yes. Because as we’re starting to learn, everyone deserves a least a chance to offer their opinions. Plus, we can’t shoot the messenger too many times. Teenagers aren’t exactly famous for their regard for the feelings of others. We’ve all be there. It’s fine.
What can we learn – if anything – from Dadbod? Do what you want? Be yourself? Forget about other people’s opinions? Or at the very least cater for the small group of people closest to you? It’s a little of everything; which, incidentally, is the primary reason you may acquire a Dadbod. The circle of life has become an elasticated waistband.