Discovering The Dad Bod

It all began as a pretty harmless post by a 19-year-old on a website most of the world hadn’t even heard of. She went on to write about ‘Why girls love the dad bod’. And no it wasn’t a spelling error, it was just an American kid coining a new term in Gen Y lingo for daddy’s body. Harmless enough we think, but we do wish people would just use the Internet for what it actually is, a tool to aid our daily life, and not turn it into the Gospel and then some.

As fitness enthusiasts freaked their brains out and beer-bellied men flaunted their bulging paunches, muscular men began to doubt their masculinity and women shrieked from the rooftops that they hated men with a gut and jowls.

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Hifzur Rahman

We decided to play peacemaker and find out what the hullabaloo was all about.


By speaking to those who sport a dad bad and those who don’t. By asking women what they want and what they don’t.

Simple, easy….

Didn’t we tell you we were sensible too? Never though much of believing the Net for everything it vomits out. It’s always better to talk to people and decide by common consensus, don’t you think?

I can’t say I ever sported a physique that manifested from hours spent in the weight room. Rippling biceps, washboard abs and a tight tush were what I always wanted… but like we all know one can’t always have what they want. And so I tried to make do with my slightly non-muscular arms, reasonably slim waist, decent legs and butt and compensated for the lack of it all with oodles of panache and swag.

A little over two months ago, a 19-year-old slip of a girl (and I call her girl ‘coz that’s what I think she is) from Clemson University penned an innocuous story in the Clemson Odyssey titled ‘Why girls love the dad bod’.

Now till such time, I urge you to note, the word dad bod was literally absent from English conversation and suddenly the Internet was freaking out, belching up frenzied deconstructions of the phenomenon that all seemed to arrive at the same angst-filled question:

“Do women really like the dad bod?”

I am north of 40, a tad soft-bellied, though I do put in my hours in the weight room religiously, and am here to do a bit of mansplaining on this particular term that’s sent all self-respecting men into a tizzy.

Pop a chill pill mates, for women, really and truly do love the dad bod.

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Shaun D’Sa

Take this from someone who’s never been a bunch of rippling muscle, but never lacked in female attention either. Now, I don’t mean to gloat or laugh at all those hunks who spend hours chiseling their bods in the gym, but the average male, above the age of 25 whose testosterone levels no longer burn with the irrational desire to make a conquest each night, has long known women like dad bods.

The poor Internet is the only one who just figured this out!

Now, most men when asked about the dad bod and what they thought of it, first jumped on the defensive.

Take for example our conversation with Hifzur Rahman, the marketing head of a popular event management company from Bengaluru, who’s a few years over 30 and in the prime of his life. He’s physically fit and doesn’t hesitate to show it. In fact he prides himself for his trim physique and gives a predictable response when the D word is popped. “Every man wants a toned body,” he says. “It’s laziness that makes them accept their body as it is and be cool about it.” However, ask him what his woman wants and he’s quick to respond: “I don’t know about the dad bod (for I don’t think I have one) but my woman likes a non-chiselled body anyway, therefore loves me as I am. Chiselled bodies are for youngsters on the ramp. A toned body is more for the masses.”

Strike 1 for the dad bod.

And do note that I personally think Rahman is supremely fit considering his hectic lifestyle and looks pretty slick in the picture where he’s posing with his tot.

Since the term was coined by a young lady I decided to delve into the mind of another female in the similar age bracket.

Supriya Lahoti is 21 and an entrepreneur from Hyderabad. It’s obvious the girl is clever and sensible for she’s opened a successful art cafe in the city at such a tender age. “I think it is cool when men pay attention to their physique, but not to the extent where they are vain. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet is essential; not paying attention to that is not attractive. However, overly built and sculpted bodies do not look natural.”

So can we safely conclude that young women definitely see sense and stability in men with a dad bod?

Strike 2 for it, I say.

Every man in Bengaluru presently wants a physique like former tennis player, model and entrepreneur Karan Medappa. The man is sculpted, cut and carved in all the right places. And that shock of curly hair just adds to his glam quotient. It’s no secret that many women lust after his hot body. In fact he probably needs to employ someone to shut those gaping jaws as he walks past, especially if he’s shirtless, considering that’s how he’s spotted on the ramp most times.

He opines: “Though the term dad bod has been coined recently and trending all over, in the present sense it is nothing but the body of an ex-enthusiastic, short-term fitness inclined person, who was once motivated to have a body like Brad Pitt or Ryan Reynolds or even our very own Hrithik Roshan. But my reference to a dad bod would be all the James Bonds from Sean Connery to Pierce Brosnan, who were not so muscular but had a good framework and a slight paunch!

I do think women feel that men with the dad bod are realistic, but I also feel that the men with the dad bod do take it too easy sometimes, maybe because they are blessed with high metabolic rates or simply because they are lazy! It does not take much time for the dad bod to turn heavier.”

Yes Karan, we’ve noted that. But we aren’t trying to put you down here. Your body rocks the ramp… that we know. What we’re trying to find out is how hot women find bodies such as yours, and for how long?

Another who echoes his thoughts is actor Harshvardhan Rane. His answer is quite amusing actually. He says: “I believe men were built to hunt and gather, so anyone who is still hunting in life – not literally for here it could be finding his answers, making a career, finding a partner – would end up looking like a hunter. And anyone who has found what he was looking for in life would have what we call now a dad bod. So both are justified, one is still looking and the other is settled. It’s just a phase where we are noticing men who are famous and have a dad bod.”

And what is it about women and a man’s perfect body that scares them off, we ask. To which pat comes the reply from Harsh. “I don’t think it scares them off, I think any woman who believes in her own fitness will always appreciate good genes in the opposite sex. Everyone has a personal taste, just like how some men like Vidya Balan and some like Kareena. There are some women who like a ripped body and some prefer the dad bod.”

A diplomatic answer, we think… but sometimes it good to be cautious.

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Ila Naidu

Now Bengaluru’s Ila Naidu has no qualms about speaking her mind. She’s married to a good-looking, loving man, who is well over 6 feet 2. And our Ila is no slacker in the looks department.

Here’s what she has to say about the dad bod. “I’m most appreciative of the perfect body, I always appreciate the way a well-built man fills out his clothes. Especially European men who are built so differently from their Indian counterparts. The way their muscular legs fill out their trousers, their strong shoulders, wide chest and tight butt… they’re so easy on the eye.

But I wouldn’t want my partner or husband to be built like that. If I can find those attributes attractive, then I’m sure other women will too. And today, many women throw themselves at men (single or not) blatantly. I wouldn’t want my partner to be ogled at and targeted by them.

Secondly, though I’m hugely into fitness and maintain myself to the best of my ability, I know my body is not perfect. So I do not want to demand the same of my partner. I’m happy with him the way he is and love him like crazy, imperfections included!”

She’s no hypocrite, that’s all I have to say.

Dad bod… Strike 3.

Don’t pull out pictures of a paunchy Leonardo DiCaprio or Vince Vaughn or Adam Sandler and say they’re attractive.

No, they’re not!

And you know that just as well as I do!

And then again let’s not look at Hrithik or Will Smith or Ryan Reynolds and think they’re the epitome of what a women wants. Most of these men, for all their muscles and rippling abs, have not been able to hold on to their women!

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Harshvardhan Rane

Shaun D’sa from Chennai is 31. He’s vociferous in his opinion: “This dad bod post – is the chubby look in – I think it’s an easy way out for the larger majority of men, including myself who have barely enough time to pursue an exercise routine. Let’s all stop joking about the chubby guy for a change and throw him in the spotlight. Let’s fashion those curves in and forget about the ideal body. Some part of me loves this, (that’s the run-with-the-Internet part) mostly because my day is turbulent and I just about make it home in time to read my little girl a few bedtime stories. I have been trying to work out for the last three years and have kind of lost touch with any sort of exercise routine. The other part of me (the logical side) says that Leonardo DiCaprio was probably working on getting chubby for the next new film and got caught in a moment that is now described as the ‘dad bod’.

My wife bakes like a goddess. It’s easy to develop a dad bod with those kind of calories going around. I push myself not to grab night time dessert. Her perspective is that I need not be built like the hulk or ripped like an athlete, she would have me stay healthy and charged. I think most women are generally happier with a man who is brisk and high on energy from a daily routine of exercise.

The 20’s have left me with a series of small health tragedies and called for lifestyle changes.  Eating right, lots of colours on my plate and a large disregard for rice keeps my metabolism just about right. So yeah, I don’t work out, but not bad for my dad bod, eh?”

We agree Shaun, we agree. That’s why we are showing the world how good you look in the picture with your little girl.

Strike 4 for our hot topic of conversation.

And finally we head to an expert to wrap up the debate. Vinod Channa is a personality trainer who works with most of Hyderabad’s hot movie stars. He’s surrounded by high levels of testosterone and adrenaline morning, noon and night. He can recite the names of protein shakes and food supplements like a kid recites poetry. Yet he has a different opinion on the D word.

He says, “First things first, fitness encompasses various elements and has a different definition. There are some people who are really fit and can do about 30 to 40 pull-ups or push-ups even if they don’t have a visibly fit body. There are also some people who have a ripped body but can’t even jog properly for 10 minutes.

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Karan Medappa

So you have to judge the person according to his strength, stamina, mobility, agility, speed, flexibility, impact bearing capacity, power, and endurance – all of these, which translate into fitness. If even one of them is missing, you don’t have a fit body. Six pack abs look fabulous – but what is the point if you cannot perform?

There are a lot of people who are impressed with guys who are fit. I think ladies get bored with someone who has a chiselled body very soon, as it is a short term thing. But being fit is a long term process! Nowadays, women are more into men who can lift weights, do one hand push-ups or any exercise but may not necessarily have good physique.”

So yeah… its Strike 5 for the dad bod!

Take it from me mates, for I have a wife of 17 years and a load of lady friends who like me just the way I am, there’s no need to sweat it out and pump yourself up just to get popular with the gals. Use your brains, be compassionate, listen patiently, talk to them, treat them nice and appreciate them for who they are and not only how they look, and they’ll do it right back at you.