Forget the summer bod. This year, it’s all about the dad bod.
Acceptance of the male physique that suggests “I work out occasionally, but also eat a lot of pizza” is on the rise, according to gym franchise Planet Fitness.
Not only are dad bods becoming more common, but women actually find men with softer stomachs more attractive than guys with rock-hard abs, a study commissioned by the fitness company found.
“We’re encouraged to see an ever-growing acceptance for the dad bod and want to encourage everyone to pass that acceptance on to themselves and others,” said Jamie Medeiros, vice president of marketing at Planet Fitness, in a news release promoting a $10 calendar with monthly tips for “working your dad bod.”
More than 25 million men in America identify with having a dad bod, compared with 21.5 million last year. And one woman’s six-pack is another woman’s dad bod, according to the study, which found that 65 percent of women would rather marry someone with a dad bod than a man with abs of steel.
While it seems unusual for a fitness company to celebrate the mediocrity of the average male physique, the New Hampshire-based company prides itself in offering a welcoming, non-intimidating environment, which it calls the “Judgement Free Zone.”
The study also found that:
• 70 percent of people believe that dad bods are universally accepted today.
• 67 percent of women find men with dad bods attractive.
• 70 percent of women believe men with dad bods have happier marriages.
• 46 percent of women whose significant others have dad bods feel the body type makes him a better father.
• 83 percent of women believe that sporting a dad bod is a sign of confidence, and 25 percent of men with dad bods feel they are more confident.
• 62 percent of men with dad bods feel that having one has improved their lives, and 43 percent of these men feel less concerned with their appearance.
The trend to embrace this softer side of fatherhood began when a South Carolina college student decided it was time to celebrate the dad bod in all its glory. Mackenzie Pearson wrote a blog post titled “Why Girls Love the Dad Bod” in which the 19-year-old concluded that the dad bod is a “balance between a beer gut and working out ... not an overweight guy, but it isn’t one with washboard abs, either.”
Pearson made the argument that women are more intimidated by a “perfectly sculpted guy” and like being “the pretty one” in the relationship. She concluded that softer men make better cuddlers and aren’t afraid to indulge in unhealthful foods.
The blog post went viral and the marketing that followed exploded. Dad bod fanny packs, T-shirts and a dad bod version of Barbie’s Ken doll are all based on the idea that a man’s body that’s not slim and toned or overtly muscular can be attractive.
A then-40-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio photographed shirtless and bearded on a beach helped fuel the trend. Other notable men who’ve been credited with having a dad bod include Russian President Vladimir Putin, rapper Kanye West and actors Jason Segel and John Krasinski.
While thousands of moms have responded to the dad bod trend with their own growing movement to highlight the changes to a mother’s body after having children — stretch marks, sagging skin, scars and flab — they’re still waiting for the study and calendar celebrating the “mom bod.”