Sorry fellas, but there is no escaping the onset of dad bod

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock 

There really are few words as cruel, cutting and likely to make you wish you could run all the way back to last century, and stay there, than 'dad bod'. 

Apparently only coined as recently as 2015, I most recently had this foul phrase hurled at me by a photographer 'friend' of mine, who was insisting on shooting me as I tried to ooze my way into a wetsuit thicker than a politician's hide in preparation for leaping into the freezing ocean off Scotland's Isle of Skye (which is, quite literally, another story).

And he didn't just idly drop it into conversation, either, he hurled it with relish. "Oh wow, that's a proper dad bod you've got there!" he yelped, before snatching up his camera and chasing me around the car park as I hurled abuse and hid away from his lens, like a stranded celebrity. 

Seth Rogen sported a dad bod in <i>Bad Neigbours</i>.
Seth Rogen sported a dad bod in Bad NeigboursPhoto: Supplied

I found this particularly hurtful as I have spent the past couple of years attempting to live in a river in Egypt. In my denial, I have convinced myself that, while I definitely suffered from the dreaded dad droop when my children were first born, i had fought back, manfully, by starving myself two days a week, giving up breakfast forever and generally reducing my own levels of life enjoyment.

Barbed and then deflated by the snapper's harsh words, I was forced to take a good, hard look at the internet, and an image search of Dad bods revealed a disturbing number of pictures that reflected what I've been trying not to see in the mirror.

What's alarming is that these dough-boy Dads all share not just a thickening around the middle and a rolling over the waistband, but a posture. A slope-shouldered, slack-chinned stance that says either 'I have given up' or 'gravity is cruel, what can you do?'

The simple fact is, of course, that no man can avoid the onset of dad bod when they first have children, or no man who doesn't have as many nannies and other staff as Brad Pitt, anyway. 

Science tells us that not getting enough sleep is terrible for digestion and likely to lead to weight gain, and that men's testosterone levels fall, by as much as 20 to 30 per cent, when they become fathers, which effects your metabolism, which means you wouldn't be getting the same results from exercise, if you were getting any.

Of course you're not, because when babies come along they eat up so much of your time that you simply cannot even imagine what you used to do with all those spare hours.

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You probably exercised. 

Another problem is that the definition of eating well is not 'Crying into a bowl of Coco Pops at 315am, between bouts of patting a newborn to sleep and binge-watching Fox Sports News'.

Sure, it gets easier, and your excuses get fewer and further between once your children grow up, and start to run around, but it's still not easy. I can't say for sure that all men hate waste, but I've rarely seen a Dad who can resist picking at all that food young kids leave on their plates.

Jason Segel rocking a dad bod in <i>Forgetting Sarah Marshall</i>.
Jason Segel rocking a dad bod in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  Photo: YouTube

What feels really unfair about the Dad bod label, though, is that, until very recently, it didn't exist.

Those overweight men telling crap jokes and wheezing a bit were just "Dads". It wasn't so much acceptable as unremarkable, and yet today it is undeniably a thing, as we're told that there's a Dad-bod Ken Doll, and encouraged to feel better because some women now find Dad bods sexy 

It would almost be funny, if it wasn't so serious, with a study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health finding that weight gain in your middling, parenting years, greatly increases your chance of an early death.

And that's why, as put-upon as I feel about the whole thing, I'm now going to have to act, again, to stop the buttery middle-age spread from turning me into an even larger figure of fun for photographers. Groan.