The ‘Dad Bod’ Phenomenon: Good Thing, Or Bad?

The 'dad bod' craze has taken the internet by storm – but is idealising a not-quite-in-shape male body type really a good idea?

PIC: Instagram / @collegedadbods

The internet loves a flash-in-the-pan fad, and this week’s viral phenom is the concept of the “dad bod”. In just a matter days, the dad bod has spread across the web and been discussed and dissected everywhere from the Daily Mirror to Time magazine.

Ground zero for the phenomenon was an essay entitled Why Girls Love The Dad Bod, which appeared in the student newspaper of Clemson University in South Carolina. Written by 19-year-old Mackenzie Pearson, it swiftly became the definitive text for dad-bod spotters.

It’s not an overweight guy, but it isn’t one with washboard abs either

“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,’” says Pearson. “It’s not an overweight guy, but it isn’t one with washboard abs either.”

Sound like your kinda thing? Well, there’s an entire Instagram account dedicated to documenting US college dudes with dad bods, so have a look at it.

PIC: Instagram / @collegedadbods

But is this newfound admiration for the almost-in-shape physique of middle-aged Joe Normal a positive thing, or a bad’n? I had a row about it with Unbound’s in-house personal trainer Jonny Jacobs. Many hurtful things were said, but these were the highlights.

“I vote NO to the dad bod!”

Jonny Jacobs, Unbound’s in-house 

personal trainer

“I suppose in one sense the dad bod phenomenon thing is positive, in that the original essay at least mentions going to the gym occasionally. But overall, it’s a bad thing.

Dad bod celebrates being average, and that’s never a good thing

“Why? Because it celebrates being average, and that’s never a good thing. One of my key mantras as a personal trainer is, ‘Nobody ever woke up saying, “I want to be more average.”’ Why would you want to settle for the most average, run-of-the-mill physique you can possibly achieve?

PIC: Instagram / @collegedadbods

“The thing is, at US colleges – where the whole dad bod thing first took off – there’s a huge culture of sport and exercise. You get students who go to college purely to play sport and build an athletic frame. But that culture doesn’t really exist in the UK. If your average British student adopts the ‘dad bod lifestyle’ of constant beer-necking and pizza-scoffing, they’re going to become very unhealthy, very quickly.

“All in all, the dad bod thing encourages men to disregard staying fit, and lets them off the hook for drifting into very unhealthy habits.”

“I vote YES to the dad bod!”

Joe Madden, Unbound editor

“I think the ‘goes to the gym occasionally’ proviso of Mackenzie Pearson’s original essay is the crux of why all this attention in the ‘dad bod’ is a mostly positive thing.

“When men are being spoken to about getting fit, they’re usually presented with imagery from the extreme ends of the spectrum: morbidly obese walking-time-bomb types, or super-buff gym dudes with rippling abs. It’s as if those are the only options available.

Simon Cowell has been singled as the prime example of dad bod

“This dad bod thing has finally allowed us to acknowledge that getting fit doesn’t necessarily need to be done to an obsessive degree that leaves you looking like He-Man, and that there can still be room for beer and pizza in your life. Most of us have neither the time nor willpower required to look like a Men’s Health cover model – and that’s fine.

PIC: Instagram / @collegedadbods

“Look at Simon Cowell, who’s been singled out through all this as being the prime example of dad bod. He’s 55, and looking pretty good on it. Not amazing, but pretty good. I wouldn’t mind looking like that when I’m 55. Minus the square haircut and nipple-high jeans, obviously.”

So what do you think? Let us know in the comments!

Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.