Dad Bod: “A nice balance between a beer gut and working out.” – Clemson University sophomore Mackenzie Pearson, who popularized the term by writing about it in The Odyssey Online, a publication that serves college communities around the United States. Also spelled dadbod.
From Pearson’s essay, published March 31, 2015:
The dad bod is a new trend and fraternity boys everywhere seem to be rejoicing. Turns out skipping the gym for a few brews last Thursday after class turned out to be in their favor. While we all love a sculpted guy, there is just something about the dad bod that makes boys seem more human, natural, and attractive.
(Yep, I noticed “turns out/turned out.” The Odyssey Online does not appear to be edited, or proofread; “Berkeley” is misspelled on the About page.)
In late April, the editors of The Cut, New York Magazine’s style and culture blog, spelled dad bod as a single word and defined the term a little more elegantly:
The dadbod is a physique characterized by undefined muscles beneath a light layer of flab, usually topped off with a beer belly.
And last week, reporter Josh Barro and economist Justin Wolfers co-wrote “The Dad Bod, Quantified,” for The Upshot, the New York Times’s news-analysis blog:
If you’re like us, you’ve said: “Are we even sure exactly what kind of bods dads have? Seth Rogen keeps being cited as a ‘dad bod’ archetype, and he doesn’t even have children. I’m really enjoying this national conversation about bods, but I wish it had more quantitative rigor.”
Well, your wish has come true. We have figured out exactly how much softer a man’s body gets, on average, when he becomes a father. To do this, we zeroed in on men 18 to 45, and compared those who had children who were under 18 and at home with those who did not.
The skinny: On average, dads are 10 pounds heavier than non-dads; they’re carrying nearly an extra two inches on their waist; and their bellies stick out an extra half-inch.
At this point you’re probably also asking yourself: “What about mom bod? Does a little extra avoirdupois also enhance the desirability of women?”
The answer, of course, is “Hahahaha.” The double standard is alive and well here, report Barro and Wolfers:
Nobody’s talking approvingly about the “mom bod,” even though the same data show approximately equal parenthood gains in weight, waistline and belly size for men and women. Parents of both sexes adjust their expectations in the same way: Moms in our age bracket were eight pounds heavier than the non-moms, but much like the dads, they adjusted their average desired weight targets up (by four pounds). Yet both moms and non-moms are much more likely than dads and non-dads to report that they tried to lose weight in the last year, and on average women report they would like to lose about twice as much weight as men.
Unfair as it seems, the counterpart to dad bod is momshell, a portmanteau of mom and bombshell that first appeared in Urban Dictionary on March 24, 2009.
“We're already obsessed with mom bods—or at least how fast moms can get rid of them,” observed Kristen Schaal, The Daily Show’s “senior women’s correspondent,” on May 12.
“You don’t have to be a dad to have a dad bod—you just have to be really lazy!”
Mark Peters writes in the Visual Thesaurus (paywalled article) that bod
has had several uses over the years that sound darn odd today. Since at least the 1920s, it's been a word for not just a body, but a person, as in “There were a lot of bods in the gazebo.” A bod could also be a corpse, as in this 1933 use from Richard Strachey’s Many Happy Returns: “The Red, the White and the Blue is unfurled and covers the dead bod, the corpse of a grocer given for England.”
Green's Dictionary of Slang shows that bod started to take on a sexually appealing meaning in the 1940s, which might have something to do with its use in two common terms: beach bod and bikini bod (plus of course dadbod). The sexual meaning—and sexist purpose—of bod can be seen in recent headlines like “Courteney Cox Flaunts Toned Bikini Bod…” (Us Magazine) and “Jessica Simpson Shows Off Her Killer Bod in New Swimwear Promo” (Life & Style Weekly). With headlines like that, plus momshell nonsense, it’s hard not to see bod as a double-edged sword that cuts women down while cutting men slack.