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The viral “dad bod” phenomenon is male privilege masquerading as empowerment

Reuters/Mike Cassese
All about that bod.
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Another day, another viral body image trend.

The latest phenomenon vying for 2015 zeitgeist is the “dad bod,” a term coined to describe ”a formerly fit athlete has gone a bit to seed and grown a nice layer of protective fat around his muscular girth,” according to writer Brian Moylan in a recent article in Time. “He’s less Muscle & Fitness than he is Ben & Jerry’s.” Although it’s hard to pinpoint exactly who came up with the term, the phrase has generally been attributed to Clemson University student Mackenzie Pearson.

Pearson’s introduction of the term has since been picked apart, analyzed and generally re-written by the internet community at large, so that it honestly bears little resemblance to the original. On May 11, the dad bod may have reached peak virality with the publication of Washington Post writer Peter Holley’s instantly-controversial and self-congratulatory homage to the physique.

Thankfully, writer Lindy West is here for a little perspective. In a series of tweets reproduced below, West reminds us what the dad bod phenomenon really says about sexism. (Hint: New terminology, same old patriarchy.)

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

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