So over the past few weeks we’ve had ISIS beheading people in Iraq and Syria, conflict breaking out over the South China Sea, confusion over the Keystone pipeline, and more confusion over Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, but social media is abuzz with the “Dadbod” phenomenon. Poor Leonardo DiCaprio! The poor dude tries to relax a little on vacation and is stalked by the paparazzi, and next is all over the media looking, shall we say, slightly less svelte than the guy we remember from “Titanic.” Poor celebrities! This kind of stuff would be my worst nightmare—catch a photo of me at the wrong moment and the headlines could be “MOMMY DEAREST,” or “DOEHLA CAUGHT MUD WRESTLING AT SHAW’S” (say, when I stop by to pick up milk after mountain biking). Leonardo, however, has the unique ability to turn looking unfit into a trend! Suddenly, the flabby male physique is dubbed the “Dadbod” and is being touted as “hot.”
The Dadbod says, “Yeah, I go to the gym once in a while, but I eat 8 slices of pizza at a time and drink heavily on weekends and I’m good with that.” Women are supposed to love the Dadbod because it’s unintimidating, and because we get to be the pretty ones in the beach photo. Controversy erupted as feminist groups responded with fury over the gender inequality inherent in the Dadbod—women are held to a higher standard and expected to look their best while men are allowed to look sloppy and women should be content with that. Men’s health and fitness groups expressed contempt for the Dadbod. Others got in on the argument, interjecting that our society has superficial values, we are all too focused on appearance and that if we really love the person, we should love their looks no matter what. The whole thing has been absolutely hilarious, really just live entertainment. Although possibly even stupider than the blue and black versus white and gold dress controversy, it has been some good brain candy for a mental break from the daily news, which I always click on with an “oh God, what’s next” kind of trepidation.
So here’s my PT take on the Dadbod. I am in the business of health, not making judgements. So show me a guy rocking the Dadbod and I’ll show you a guy with a BMI (that’s body-mass index) approaching 30, which is an unhealthy range. He’s at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, gallbladder disease, arthritis, and certain types of cancer, such as colon cancer. He’s apple-shaped, meaning he’s carrying excess fat around his middle, indicating metabolic syndrome which is making him a heart attack waiting to happen or a strong candidate for type 2 diabetes. Excess amounts of cortisol, the stress hormone, contribute to apple-shaped physiques which tells me that maybe the guy, despite what we’re supposed to think, is not feeling all that great and is not that happy with how he looks. The flabby biceps are indicative of sarcopenia, or muscle mass loss from aging and disuse. So seeing images of the Dadbod all over the media makes me a little stressed that people are celebrating poor health and trying to call it attractive. I’m really not sure that women everywhere do love the Dadbod, but if they do, here’s a reality check: Ladies, if you’re in it for the long haul and really love your guy, how’s his health going to be 10 years from now? Will he be able to keep up with you and enjoy life with you? Instead of thinking only about yourself and being the beautiful one in the relationship, maybe you should invite him to join you on some of your fitness endeavors. Or at the very least make sure he’s got a decent health insurance plan.
The only praise I’ve got concerning the Dadbod is that all the men who post selfies of themselves in their unfit glory exude a sense of humor and fun, and damn! That’s hot. My sense is that most of these guys are enjoying this silliness while it lasts, and that they fully realize that it won’t last for long.
–Kathleen Doehla, M.S. P.T.