Dad bods have grown in popularity over the past several years and most people agree that’s a good thing. It has shown men that women still find them attractive even if they are not sculpted. It promotes the attractiveness of healthy body types, as opposed to the many unattainable beauty standards. However, one woman on TikTok pointed out that women are given no such leeway. While dad bods are celebrated, mom bods are not — despite moms being the ones who actually carry and birth children. Instead, they are expected to “bounce back” after a birth. As in, they have to return to their slim, pre-birth body to be considered conventionally attractive.
The Origins of the Dad Bod
The term “dad bod” first appeared in a 2015 article called “Why Girls Love The Dad Bod”. It was written by a student at Clemson University, Mackenzie Pearson, who said she hadn’t invented it; she had heard it in different social circles.
She explained why girls like dad bods, which she described as “a nice balance between a beer gut and working out.” Plus, “there is just something about the dad bod that makes boys seem more human, natural, and attractive.” Pearson added many specific reasons why girls are into this body type, many of which boiled down to how many women struggle with body image issues. This included:
- They are less intimidating than someone who is perfectly fit.
- Women like “being the pretty one” in a relationship.
- Women tend to feel slimmer next to a bigger guy.
- Dad bods provide better cuddling.
- The guy enjoys good food, which women interpret as a focus on fun and enjoying life.
- Women know what kind of body they are getting post-marriage and kids. 
After posting the article, Pearson received many responses from men thanking her. In an interview with Slate, she explained, “I’ve had a surprising number of men and boys contact me saying, ‘I’ve had trouble with my body image. I’ve been insecure about my body because I’m a bigger guy. I’m a thick guy.’ They’re reaching out and saying, ‘This really helped me with my self-confidence.’” Overall, it seemed like the dad bod movement had a positive effect on men’s body image.
However, that same interviewer commented on how the dad bod appeal seemed to lie in women’s body image issues, which was not Pearson’s intention but it remained true. 
What About Mom Bods?
In the viral TikTok video, real estate agent and Etsy shop owner, Rachel Whipple call out the double standard. “Do you ever think about how society is so accepting of dad bods, and yet, it’s women who literally carry and birth the child. And the second they do, they’re bombarded by society about how to lose the baby weight. Because their ‘mom’ bod that literally birthed a human is not accepted, but a dad bod is.” 
Since its release on July 14, her video has gained over a million views and thousands of comments and likes. Many comments expressed that they had never noticed the hypocrisy before. Some included stories about how people bombarded them with weight loss tips and tummy tuck surgeries soon after giving birth. Men are notably not given as much shame for gaining weight after becoming a parent.
Many mothers joined the conversation. In fact, many women flaunted their “mom bods” in their own response videos. Hopefully, this positivity toward these body types will inspire other women to feel more confident in their own skin.
A study has found that the female beauty ideal is continuously moving farther away from the looks of an average American woman.  And no wonder. These standards include
- Hairlessness all over their body
- Being slim with a flat stomach while still having a big butt
- Smelling good all the time
- Flawless skin with no acne, stretch marks, cellulite, etc.
- No signs of aging, including grey hair and wrinkles
Rampant Body Image Issues
Not only do these standards exist, but they bombard women, sometimes subtly and sometimes overtly. There are ads that promote diets, skincare regimes, “beach body ready” workouts, and makeup — all edited and doctored beyond recognition. Actresses in films have to adhere to a certain body type to get roles. Plus, many films couple young actresses up with middle-aged actors. Apparently, older men are attractive but women their age are not.
It’s no wonder that many women suffer from body image issues. They are measured against a beauty standard that only exists with filters, professional makeup, live-in dieticians and chefs, photoshop, and plastic surgery. It’s easy to tell young girls that they shouldn’t care what other people think, but that doesn’t stop the constant negativity against “non-attractive” body types — which include their own. It’s no wonder that women are at a high risk of suffering from low self-esteem, which leads to depression, eating disorders, and other issues with mental health.
Fortunately, there are movements to counter this unrealistic beauty standard and perhaps mom bods will gain as much traction as dad bods. After seeing the response to her video, Whipple said,
“It’s a bittersweet mixture of emotions: happiness to see women embracing their bodies, grief for the way things are, relief that so many people agree, anger for the misogyny that came through in the comments, and hope that things will get better.”
- “Why Girls Love The Dad Bod.” The Odyssey Online. Mackenzie Pearson. March 30, 2015
- “What Is the Dad Bod? America’s Leading Expert Explains.” Slate. Amanda Hess. April 30, 2015
- “Woman Slams the ‘Dad Bod’ Double Standard And Inspires Others to Show Off Their ‘Mom Bods’.” Parents. Maressa Brown. June 22, 2021
- “Unattainable Standards of Beauty for Today’s Woman.” BU School of Medicine. January 2, 2020