According to Richard Bribiescas, professor of anthropology, ecology, and evolutionary biology at Yale University and author of How Men Age: What Evolution Reveals About Male Health and Mortality, chubby “older fathers live longer, are more attractive to the opposite sex, and are better at passing on their genes” than leaner, more attractive men who give a damn about their bodies.
What? A man wrote this book legitimizing the dad bod? Get out of here!
According to Bribiescas, there is evidence that these men are less likely to suffer from heart attacks and prostate cancer. “Macho makes you sick,” said Bribiescas. He also posits that becoming pudgier “makes dads more likely to invest their time in their children rather than looking for other women, while the increased levels of fat could make them more attractive to women.”
The “could” is there for a reason, I assume.
For those who don’t know or have forgotten, the dad bod went viral a year ago, when a 19-year-old Clemson sophomore named Mackenzie Pearson penned a story in the Odyssey at Clemson University, titled “Why Girls Love the Dad Bod.” She suggested that women are more attracted to men whose physiques reflect “a nice balance between a beer gut and working out” than they are to hunks with washboard abs. Suddenly the idea took off, and now, luckily for fathers with a B-cup or better, men have even more reasons to finish their children’s uneaten bread crusts.
And on the flip side (because there’s always a flip side), women are once again left to wonder why there’s no similar love for the mom bod. And I suppose that really is the depressing reality of this scientific finding.
It reinforces a double standard.
I am a father of three in my mid-30s, and according to this research, my gut represents a decrease in testosterone and a deep investment in my family. All that extra weight and age adds up to me being a better father, more dedicated, and less likely to cheat.
But what do these same characteristics mean for a mother?
Well, we all know the answer, and it’s crap. And you know what? That sucks. The fact is, I watched my wife carry three different children. I watched her waddle around the house, struggle to sleep, and need to pee every hour or so, only to have doctors cut open her body, take the baby out, and then have society inform her that she needs to lose the baby weight and look a little more like a childless college freshman.
Listen, I’m not an anthropologist. I don’t know the root of this double standard, but what I do know is that it doesn’t add up. Here are the facts: A lot of what Bribiescas is saying about how extra weight on men reflects their dedication to family and marriage is everything a mother has in spades.
Just this week, Louis C.K. said this about mothers when commenting on what it will mean to have a mother in the White House: “A great father can give a kid 40% of his needs, tops. Any mother — like just a shit mother, like just a not-even-trying mother — 200%.”
While this is all tongue in cheek, and I happen to know many single and stay-at-home fathers who do some really amazing things, the fact remains that mothers really do take on the brunt of raising a family in most situations, even in 2016.
It should be respected. If anyone should be getting praise for their body, it should be mothers. I mean, damn, they create life, deliver it into the world, and then help sustain it until the little bugger finally moves out.
If Photoshop could capture how much mothers love their children, if it could capture how dedicated they are to their family, if it could catch the stretch marks and C-section scars in the right light, so that everyone could see just how hard it is to bring a baby into this world. If it could do all that, mothers everywhere would be on the cover of every magazine.
A flat stomach and large breasts just look good on paper. I am not going to try to speak for all men, but what I can say is that I am not alone. I know a lot of men that are blown away by how amazing the mothers of their children are, how sexy it makes them, and very little of it has to do with having a lean body.
So with that said, science has made the Dad Bod legit. Congratulations. But what does that really mean, Dads? Does it mean you get to go put your feet up? Does it mean you get to skip another trip to the gym?
Or is this really about being comfortable in your skin, while your partner is not granted that luxury?
I get it. I know it’s tempting to slide this research across the dining room table to your wife and say, “What do you think of them apples?” But do you really need this confirmation? Did this actually tell you something that society hasn’t been cramming down everyone’s throat for years?
You know what I want? I’d rather see fathers go home, look at the mothers of their children, think about everything that makes them a mother, from childbirth to unconditional love, and realize that you are both in this together, regardless of the shape of your bodies. Tell her how sexy she is, and then, you know what, she’ll do the same to you. Then take this research, along with the Dad Bod, and all this double standard shit, and throw it in the trash. Because we don’t need it. What we need is love, compassion, empathy, and partnership regardless of your role. Because that’s what makes marriage and family work.