Many female body acceptance movements have made headlines over the past few years, my own included–"What I Learned About Life While Standing in the Middle of Times Square in My Bathing Suit was my TED Talk. Women owning their bodies in bikinis or showing off the scars of motherhood have been met with a mixed reaction of praise and disgust.
Then, Dadbod came on to the scene with an unexpectedly high level of enthusiasm and acceptance. What’s not to love about the friendly, approachable dadbod and his easygoing lifestyle? The dadbod isn’t caught up in endless hours at the gym or crazy diets. He is just happy to spend time doing the things he loves, wearing the same jeans he wore in college. The downside to dadbod, however, is the glaring double standard.
Seth Rogen could plausibly knock up Katherine Heigl on film, but if Rebel Wilson had a cinematic one-night stand with Ryan Gosling, the script would probably call for them to raise the baby together as friends until her kindness and personality eventually eclipsed her BMI or she got the gastric sleeve. The dadbod is a perfectly acceptable and attractive body standard, but it’s available to only one gender. Spoiler alert, ladies: not ours.
Women aren’t afforded the luxury of something attractively, lovingly nicknamed mombod, even though we’re the ones who actually carry and birth the babies. While dadbod is a transitional step in the male aging process, mombod should be a temporary stop on the road back to pre-mombod. Our sexiness comes not from the evolution of our breasts and curves, but in our ability to erase the fact that any of it happened in the first place.
To society, mombod has given up. She eats cold leftovers from her children’s plates and prefers yoga pants for comfort because she’s lazy, not because she’s run out of hours in the day or frustrated dressing a body completely foreign to herself.
But mombod should be appreciated for what it represents.
She is selfless. Mombod isn’t born from a complete disregard for physical fitness or dietary need, mombod puts others before herself. First, offering up her own body to grow and nurture another human being, and then sidelining her own immediate needs to care for those around her.
She is compassionate. There is nothing more humbling than to be cast as a failure or unattractive boil on the face of society. Mombod is used to being told she isn’t good enough, so as a result, she is empathetic to those struggling with beauty and confidence around her.
She is uncommon. Every mombod is a virtual unicorn in terms of shape and size. Each new fold and curve specific to only her and her experiences. While this may not lend itself to clothes shopping, it makes loving a mombod a singular, one-in-a-million experience.
She is driven. Balancing motherhood with anything else is nearly impossible. Work, home, and everything in between is a feat of sheer determination while also balancing a family. She may not have time to spend every free moment at the gym. Or, maybe she does and you shouldn’t make assumptions about people based on their weight.
She wears her love on her sleeve, literally. Mombod’s scars and curves read like a scrapbook of her life. Moments she displayed superhuman strength or endured unparalleled pain are forever etched across her thin skin. Looking at her shouldn’t make you cringe, but instead, genuflect.
She is beautiful. Mombod’s beauty isn’t limited to her perseverance or familiarity, it comes from simply being a woman.
So, should we welcome the acceptance of dadbod as a possible solution to the body hate epidemic facing girls and women in this country? Maybe. As the rise of the average man takes over, perhaps his appreciation and acceptance of the average woman will follow suit. That would be a monumental evolution in body acceptance.
Brittany Gibbons writes at Brittany. Herself. and is the author of the new book Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin…Every Inch of It.