That an American study has found straight women prefer dad bods (“an untoned and slightly plump male physique, especially one that is considered attractive”) to six packs and hard shiny abs comes as no great surprise.
Of course we do. There’s something so try-hard about straight men desperate for muscle; red faced down the gym, grunting and huffing, before posting selfies on dating sites gurning over their guns in the mirror, bellies sucked in.
Seriously. Relax, love, have some Monster Munch. Even Brad Pitt had a dad bod, until Hollywood made him change it. (And who came up with ‘guns’?)
The female gaze is so much softer than the male. We don’t mind a bit of blokey squidge around the middle; we don’t need you to have a Ronaldo body, hairless as a dolphin with zero body fat.
Unlike confidence, vanity is never sexy. We are cool with ‘imperfection’ for the simple reason that we are not men; we don’t mind your chicken wing shoulders, your muffin top waistlines, your moobs or your jowls.
Obviously if you need an oxygen tank to go upstairs we’d be worried for you, and might not fancy you as much as if you leapt up two at a time, but as a general rule we ladies tend not to be on the Patrick Bateman spectrum. (Bateman, you will remember, dismissed an entire woman as a prospective sexual partner in American Psycho because her knees were a tiny bit unsymmetrical. Despite the further horrors of the novel, it is this detail, in all its exaggerated plausibility, which snags.)
While obviously not all men are body fascists, where is the equivalent research showing that men prefer — or even like — mum bods?
You know, the bodies that have grown and pushed out further humans, then fed them for a while, resulting in collagen no longer tight as a teenage Russian gymnast, or bosoms which no longer defy gravity.
Mum bods are like factory farmed dad bods, having been through far more than just lager; where is the survey saying how attractive men find them?
In my dreams, that’s where. Because in reality, straight men want women to look like porn stars, and gay men want other gay men to also look like porn stars. Only the lesbians are safe.
And while traditionally only porn stars look like porn stars, these days we are all supposed to be hairless hard bodies.
Except we’re not. We are mum bods and dad bods, soft around the edges, saggy in the middle, with furry corners, but judged oh so differently, depending on the gaze’s gender. It’s why gay men and straight women are the winners when it comes to eating disorders and body dysmorphia.
But at least if you are a gay man, you can be a bear, fat and furry. Fat furry women tend not to have that option, so we wax and avoid bakeries, because our mum bods remain culturally unrepresented except as ‘before’ pictures. Maybe the male gaze needs to go to Specsavers.