The Dad Bod Is Glorified But Mum Bods Are Shamed

What do Gerard Butler, Leonardo Di Caprio and Vince Vaughn have in common? Aside from being award-winning actors, they’ve all become poster boys for the widely-celebrated ‘dad bod’.

Despite two of the aforementioned not even having children, Gerard, Leo and Vince have been lauded for their undefined abs and softer stature – and whilst I’m not inferring there’s anything wrong with a ‘dad bod’ (in fact, I’m a huge fan), I simply wonder: where are the female equivalents? Have you ever heard the term ‘mum bod’ banded around in anything other than a negative fashion? Thought not.

So it’s no surprise a new study has found that social media portrays an unrealistic image of postpartum bodies, posing a threat to new mums’ mental health. The study by the University of Syndey analysed millions of images and found that features commonly found on postpartum bodies – stretch marks, a soft stomach, cellulite and scars from caesarean sections – were only shown in 5% of pictures. Instead, new mums were shown in workout gear, lingerie or swimwear – essentially, showcasing how quickly their bodies has ‘bounced back’. 

Just look at the treatment of Rihanna, who has been the subject of snide remarks after giving birth. With some of her postpartum looks consisting of oversized casualwear, critics and commentators are praising Rihanna for refusing to conform to “snapback” culture – which essentially pressures women to magically “snap back” to their pre-pregnancy weight and appearance after giving birth. It is, of course, an extremely unrealistic expectation to have of new mothers whose bodies have gone through tremendous transformations during pregnancy.

But ironically, the scrutiny over Rihanna’s size and headlines such as this one that reads “Rihanna flaunts her post-pregnancy weight” and this one that says she’s “embracing her thickness,” which zone in on the state of her weight loss – or lack of it, prove that snapback culture is very much alive and that ‘mum bods’ aren’t viewed as desirable.

A quick search on Urban Dictionary further proves my point. I typed in ‘dad bod’ and here’s what came back:

1. “Dad bod” is a male body type that is best described as “softly round.” It’s built upon the theory that once a man has found a mate and fathered a child, he doesn’t need to worry about maintaining a sculpted physique.
2. Having a “dad bod” is a nice balance between working out and keeping a beer gut

I did the same for ‘mum bod’ and the result was pretty horrifying:

“A woman who has had at least one kid and that child has affected her body in such a way that it changes her physical appearance to the point to where she no longer looks like herself. Ex: stretch marks on the hips, thighs and boobs, rounded face, double chin, cellulite ass, saggy boobs from nursing and pumping, a rounded or sagging belly (stomach, abdomen).

“Some women are blessed with the natural ability to convert back to a very similar version of themselves or exactly like they were before conceiving. More times than not, these women will have additional kids and will not worry since they are convinced that their bodies can handle it without long term effects. Each child is different and more times than not, these women will have that one child that their body just can’t recover from.”

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