Illustration by Mags Ocampo
Culture Spotlight

Why having a Dad bod is a badge of honor

A former health and fitness magazine editor on what it means to have a body like Thor’s. (You know which version of Thor we’re talking about.)
Peejo Pilar | Jun 09 2019

Have you ever watched those nature documentary shows? They always have sequences where animals are shot in slow motion. To show them in action or a relevant scene in their habitat. I’m sure you’ve seen some clip of a bear preparing for hibernation. Adorable. Or those scenes of a whale shooting up from the ocean. Majestic. What about those Emperor Penguins waddling along the cold snowy terrain. Freaking cute.

 

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I often imagine myself in a similar slow-mo glory. Chasing after my rambunctious son. Shaking a milk bottle with all my frenzied might. Or simply plopping down exhausted on the sofa. Unfortunately, it is not quite as adorable, not at all cute, and far from majestic.

But it never really bothers me. Such is the responsibility of a daddy. But there is one other responsibility that is often noticed but never really talked about. The Dad Bod.

Oh yes. I have a Dad Bod. I’m not ashamed of it. Although truth be told, you would actually hardly notice it unless you stare directly at my belly. It’s my Papa Paunch. I’m not rotund. But I do have that gut. Believe it or not, I worked in a health and fitness publication before. I was not Mr. Olympia. But I did try to eat properly and get in some running whenever I could. I enjoyed entering races and getting my legs and lungs working overtime.

Once fatherhood hit, the pounds started to pack on. The first heavy visitor was of course the Big Belly. Followed shortly by Mr. Huge Hips. And then that wacky bastard Extra Jowl. It’s a mix of age as well. That combo is sure to slow down any metabolism. Now before you young guys start panicking and screaming bloody murder, getting a Dad Bod isn’t the end of the world. I’ve got friends my age who look as if they just ran a marathon in the Serengeti. You want to avoid the Dad Bod, that’s what the gym and those crazy diets are for. Go for it young blood.

Am I owning the Dad Bod? Definitely. Am I promoting diabetes and telling all of you to scarf down as many steaks and cups of butter as humanly possible? No of course not. Like I keep telling my friends, ‘everything in moderation’. It’s alright to have a Dad Bod. It’s not okay to have high cholesterol and an annual angiogram. If any of you ever feel like your health might be at risk, please consult a doctor.

For those with a playful paunch. Sure you might be feeling a bit down and insecure. And like always, there’s that Pinoy troll friend or relative who’ll have the absolute tactless clich├ęs thrown your way in every get together. “Tumataba ka na ha.” “Grabe and laki na ng tiyan mo.” There have been times where my past occupation would pop up. “Uyy diba yung trabaho mo dati ay sa health and fitness? Anyare?!” Oh I’ve heard it all.

But like a lot of chapters in our lives, that ship has sailed. In my case it’s a cruise ship with a delightful intercontinental buffet. Remarks like that have never really bothered me. My Dad Bod is a badge of honor. It tells me that I’m focusing more on my wife and my child. It tells me that, “Hey, you’re pretty chill, old man. Good for you.”

Plus if I had six pack abs, my child would ruin it. He loves to jump on my body like a tiger pouncing on… well… a guy with a Dad Bod. And I love that I can rest my arm on my belly. It’s like I have a bookshelf below my chest. I’d freak out though if I suddenly discover that I can place a grande sized Caramel Macchiato on my paunch. That would certainly be a warning sign for me to hit the streets and do a bit of cardio.

Apa Ongpin, writer, businessman, sailor, Editor-in-chief of Asian Dragon Magazine, and dad with corresponding bod, shares with me that your body is what nature or God has given to you. And it’s hard to give nature or the big guy up in heaven an uppercut to the chin when you’re not satisfied. “I believe it is really important to accept yourself as you are, whatever you are,” says Ongpin. “To some extent, you can change your physical envelope, but only to some extent.

"There is such a thing as too much, for example certain kinds of cosmetic surgery. I think the absolute worst living hell is to be trapped in a body that you don’t want, and wish you were someone else, for the rest of your life. You can do something about it, but you can also accept yourself as you are. Your body should never define you.”

So Dad Bods, unite and be happy. You’re enjoying life. Of course, don’t enjoy that unlimited samgyupsal Korean BBQ too many times. You do want to stick around to see your children graduate college. You’ve heard it all too many times from movies and comic geeks, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Alright so a big belly isn’t exactly a super power. But having a Dad Bod certainly comes with responsibility. You can embrace it, enjoy it, but always remember to control it.