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Mom Bod vs. Dad Bod: Why the Double Standard?

Mom Bod vs. Dad Bod: Why the Double Standard?
Recent headlines have made the new "dad bod" a trending topic in the health world.

If men trade in their six-pack abs for a six-pack of beer, it's no biggie.

But, women are constantly scrutinized for not falling under a specific weight; one that was created by society's standard of beauty.

Even after growing another life inside inside of them, women are immediately pressured to drop back to pre-baby sizes.

Women with "mom bod" are often portrayed as lazy and chastised for lacking the willpower to lose that stubborn baby weight.

So, why is dad bod more accepted than mom bod?

Catherine Henricks, MS, joins HER Radio to share the difference between dad bod and mom bod, as well as why one is more accepted than the other.
Featured Speaker:
Catherine Henricks, MS
Cathy Henricks pictureCatherine Henricks, MS, has worked in the mental health and addiction field for the past 30 years with most recent focus on working with individuals diagnosed with eating disorders.

Her work experience has primarily been in management of residential programs for eating disorders, day programs for adults and adolescents with a variety of addiction and mental health issues (including eating disorders). Her bachelor's degree is in psychology with a certificate in women's studies and her master's degree is in education psychology with a focus on rehabilitation counseling. Catherine has interests in nutrition, health integration, yoga, meditation and holistic health.

Catherine has presented on a variety of topics, including Transfer Addiction (specific to audience of individuals pre- and post-bariatric surgery); Suicide; Addictions and Disabilities; Eating Disorders.

For fun, she likes to walk her dogs, exercise, read, listen to live music, dance and spend time with her wonderful husband and (adult) kids.


RadioMD Presents:HER Radio | Original Air Date: June 4, 2015
Host: Michelle King Robson and Pam Peeke, MD

Dr. Pam Peeke, New York Times best-selling author and founder of the Peeke Performance Center and Michelle King Robson, leading women's advocate, entrepreneur and founder of host the show everyone is talking about. It's time for HER Radio.

PAM: Oh, Michelle, I have been so waiting for this segment. Look at you. You're laughing your head off.

MICHELLE: I know you have.

PAM: So, there it was in Women's Health Magazine this whole issue about why women accept dad bods. A dad bod is the body of a guy who is a dad and he starts putting on the paunch thing and its okay. Somehow, women think that this is an okay thing because that infers he is going to be a good dad and a provider and all of these nice little things. But a mom bod? No, no, no, no, no. You gain even three ounces – they know. I don't know who they are, but they know. There is no forgiveness for women and for guys it's okay. I'm sorry. I've got some issues.

MICHELLE: That's because women are more forgiving. Segment over.

PAM: Okay, we're done. No, we're not done. We're here with Catherine Henricks. She is the Director of Eating Disorders at Recovery Ranch, one of the leading groups in the country looking at all things body image, disordered eating, strange things that go on with issues like mom bods and dad bods. Catherine is an expert in the field and is going to share her wit and wisdom with us. Catherine, welcome to HER Radio.

CATHERINE: Thank you very much. It's nice to be here.

MICHELLE: Happy to have you.

PAM: So, what is this thing with the dad bod and the mom bod?

MICHELLE: Sounds like a dead bod.

PAM: It's not a dead bod, it's a dad bod. Stop it, Michelle. Catherine, why is it that there is this unfairness, this inequality?

CATHERINE: It is just fascinating. To have a dad bod, you do not need to be a dad. It is this new trend. Actually, the term dad bod has been around for a few years. A young woman, she is college aged, she wrote an article about dad bods and why these young college-aged women are attracted to these frat boys who maybe at one point when they were in high school may have been ripped, but they go to college and they start drinking beer and eating pizza and they put on some weight and they lose that washboard ab.

But the girls are finding them very attractive. In fact, they walk around campus and are able to point out who the dad bods are. She gives a whole number of reasons as to why these bodies are attractive or why these men are attractive to these young women. It is very interesting. What I find fascinating, too, is that there is not an equivalent to the dad bod for a mom bod.

PAM: Why? Why? Why?

Catherine: I know. The mom bod refers to a woman who has had a baby and still has the effects of having had the baby. Maybe a little bit of extra weight, stretch marks, that type of thing. There isn't a term out there that reflects that there is a college aged woman who maybe has a little bit of extra weight on her, but is in good shape and is found to be very desirable by a whole slew of fellows. That is really, really unfortunate that there isn't because it seems to me that dad bod really refers to kind of a normal guy.

MICHELLE: Exactly. Just a man.

CATHERINE: Yes, just a man. And understanding that this is a guy who may not really be obsessed with his body, can go and have fun and that type of thing. The reason why these girls like these boys, though, is pretty superficial. It has to do with how they feel when they are around these guys. They feel like maybe they are tinier. These guys have a little bit of extra weight on them so they are the smaller one. They can be the pretty one. They don't want to be with a guy who is in better shape than they are. It is pretty superficial at some level. At least that is what this - Mackenzie Pearson is the young woman who wrote the article – what she indicated that her friends had told her and so forth why they are so interested in these young men.

MICHELLE: I can't disagree with these young women, though. I feel the same way. I would rather be the pretty one in the relationship. The thinner one.

PAM: Oh, my gosh. So this – Michelle now I understand. I totally get it. So, there is this competition thing between both of them. There is that but there is also another thing. Let's flash forward. Okay, so now we're like 40 years old, let's go to the 40 year place. Let's bag the college kids. Let's go to 40, even 50, whatever.

Now, we have men and women, even if they didn't have kids - maybe they are married. If a woman is now looking at a guy, and you see this with celebrities all the time, where you see those sneak peeks of the celebrity. The guy who has now put on a few and he's got that belly going and he's starting to look more, and I quote, "average". Where if you see a woman like that she is splayed all over the cover of National Inquirer saying, "Oh, my God, she has just totally let it go." Then, we have the Demi Moore's of the world and the Angelina Jolie's or even Beyoncé, who drop all their weight and they've got this phenomenal bod – and back and forth. How much is this feeding into disordered eating? How much is this making women feel rotten about themselves that they can't really pull it off like Beyoncé?

CATHERINE: It really contributes to it and there is this idealized, super thin body that women believe that they at some level – and even if women say, "No, I would never want to be that thin" – but there is this message that we are bombarded with that that is how women should look. It really does contribute. Only 5% of the population meets that idealized body. There is 95% of the rest of us just walking around with normal bodies believing that somehow we are supposed to be achieving this. That is universal. In the United States. Maybe other countries – I've met some French women who are really happy with their bodies and free and so forth.

PAM: They are.

CATHERINE: I don't want to speak to other countries, but in the United States, boy, women of all ages are very concerned about not meeting that idealized standard. It is women who are the ones that are determining that. Men are actually much more comfortable with women being a little bit heavier than women are comfortable with them being heavier. Men will say, "I am okay.

If a women is confident, sure of herself, that size doesn't really impact how I feel--how sexy I think she is." But it's the message that women give themselves and that goal of trying to achieve that Demi Moore type of body that is almost impossible unless you are engaging in some pretty extreme dieting. It's really difficult to be that thin.

MICHELLE: Dieting and exercise. Which isn't always healthy, right? Because women have to have a certain amount of fat in their body for their hormones to function. Let alone, all of the other things. To your point, Catherine, most women don't feel good about themselves and thinner isn't better. It doesn't look better, actually. I think men want something to hold onto.

PAM: We have been talking right now to Catherine Henricks who is the Director of Eating Disorders at Recovery Ranch, which is one of the leading facilities in the United States to be able to really work out, in residence, issues with disordered eating as well as body image. Catherine, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with HER Radio. The organization is Look it up and learn more. Now we understand mom bod and dad bod. I'm Dr. Pam Peeke with Michelle King Robson.

MICHELLE: You're listening to HerRadio on RadioMD. Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook. Stay well.