Thanks to Facebook and Instagram, the label #dadbod —said to be coined by a woman writing on her college website—is now a growing online collection of images of men around the world proudly showing off their “dad body.”
Based on the physique of the likes of Adam Sandler and Leonardo DiCaprio, the “dad bod” means having a body with a moderately soft stomach that could mean consumption of one too many beers and missing out on gym workouts.
I’m not sure where the idea of a specific body type for a father came from—the last time I checked, men are not capable of getting pregnant and giving birth. But if they want to join mothers in sporting new bodies after having babies, regardless of whether they’ve actually had one or not, sure, why not?
But wait a minute, what about bodies which actually go through a process to become a parent—those that stretch to accommodate and nourish a life for 40 weeks, and in the process, end up with separated abdominal muscles and a stomach with stretch marks and, at times, a signature cut from the OB-gyn?
There are women who are genetically built to keep their figure from high school to old age, even after having one child after another. But for most of us, pregnancy and childbirth bring about not just a new baby, but a new body as well.
For some, the new body is a slightly different version of their old ones; for others, it may be completely unrecognizable. Cue entrance of the #mombod.
For some women, regaining their pre-baby body is simply out of the question; for others it is a never-ending quest. Over the years, the fat may melt away, and the stretch marks may fade into silvery stripes, but some changes are here to stay: loose skin that no amount of crunches can force back into its once firm state; and breasts that comfortably hang in place instead of perkily waving themselves in your face.
And that’s just the external—who knows how things have changed inside?
Just the same, mothers have performed the greatest miracle—to bring new life into this world.
Despite what every mother has done with her body, I still haven’t read any posts from men in praise and celebration of the mom bod. Fortunately, women in social media are compensating for the lack of support and are coming out, sharing photos of their bodies.
And while there are those who say that this trend is nothing but another way to torture women, I see something else. Going through the images that mothers are uploading every day, I feel that we have a label which, rather than restricting, celebrates and empowers mothers to be confident and happy in their bodies, regardless of how it looks.
Having said that, I don’t know why we need to have a trending hashtag or label to feel good and proud of our bodies, or why we are still discussing the subject in this day and age. You’d think, considering how far civilization has come, women would not be battling image and body issues anymore.
For some reason, the expectations and standards society presents to women continue to put undue pressure on women.
But now, through this label, mothers are fighting back, against both the years of stereotyping that moms can’t be sexy after having a baby (or five!), as well as the unrealistic expectation that a woman is still supposed to keep a perfect body after childbirth.
It seems society can’t make up its mind on how a mother’s body is supposed to look, and this is probably because, really, who is to say what it should look like?
Among the images online under #mombods, there are women in bikinis who look like they never had their stomachs grow to crazy proportions in those nine months.
There are those with incredibly toned abdomens mixed with textured skin from stretch marks and even a visible cut or two.
We see bodies that have gone through their fair share of stretching and growing. Some stand alone while others are seen side by side with the product/s of their womb.
But what they all have in common is a sense of confidence and pride in their body, regardless of what society may have to say about it.
If the rise of the mom bod, with its various forms, is what it will take for women to realize that they are beautiful in whatever shape or state they are in, then three cheers for the #mombod.
Celebrating the mom bod is not about being indifferent to the changes, nor is it about flaunting a perfect body. It’s about embracing these changes and learning to accept and love your body, whether in its natural state or in a state that you worked to achieve.
I don’t want to be sanctimonious or hypocritical. I have my realistic idea of what kind of body I would like to maintain after three children. But what matters is that we should set and follow our own standards, not those dictated by the media and society.
So, move over #dadbod, and make room for the #mombod. Unlike the dad bod, the mom bod comes in all shapes and forms. It celebrates them all, and encourages every woman to be proud of her body.
A mother’s body is no passing phase. It’s a beautiful reality, unique to every woman, and needs no labels.