A number of our friends and colleagues have asked us about the “dadbod” trend circulating right now. At its helm are celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and John Hamm helping make rounded edges look a little more appealing. Fitness is our stock and trade so the question often centers on what we think of the dadbod.
It’s like this: once upon a time, people were far more active. This wasn’t a lifestyle choice so much as a necessity for survival. At that point, being too muscular was often looked down upon as lower status. In contrast, during the Renaissance in Europe, being fat was considered not just desirable but healthier than the alternative. Around the same time in China, a different take on physical activity saw nobility wearing sleeves that were so long they covered the hands as if to say, “Look at me, I don’t have to use my body for anything!”
Here in North America, bodybuilding came into vogue in the late 70s (in no small part due to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s role in Pumping Iron). The subculture had certainly existed before, but this surge of growth coincided with the idea of the modern gym and weight machines. Being humans, we took things to extremes. Was some muscle and definition good? How about all of it!? Bigger and more cut became goals because, well, people didn’t really know what other direction to take things. This created the template that many big box gyms still adhere to.
Times change but other things don’t official source. For example, evolution has helped us develop visual perception circuits that rapidly process information about a potential mate’s status. According to Geoffrey Miller, author of The Mating Mind, good posture implies several desirable characteristics, from youthfulness (old people tend to slump) and energy to mental health. We also know that the human organism was designed to move and the impact of exercise penetrates right down to the genetic level.
What does all this mean? Humans are hardwired to find movement, bearing, vitality, capability and confidence attractive. That’s the core. Whether or not there’s a layer of fat covering that core is a matter of taste (but probably subject to a lot less variance than you might expect).
On the outer layer, there’s a cost to being a bon vivant. Regular booze, fine meals and (most certainly) late nights can disrupt hormonal function and body composition.
Is that ok? Don’t ask us. It’s our job to help you make your life more enjoyable and to understand the opportunity cost of your preferences.
Some people prefer to be very lean and some prefer to drink beer on patios all summer. Others want both. We gently tell those people about what’s involved (pro tip: it’s a lot). The common thread is that everyone we work with wants to be strong and move well; that’s the foundation we support for anyone. Layer on top of it whatever you like.
Insert obligatory #dadbod hashtag here.