| Dad Jacked – Why the “Dad Bod” is BS

Author / Steve (a.k.a. Prof. Booty) Platek

A recent blog post titled “Why girls love the dad bod” seems to have gone viral. The post outlines several reasons for why women are, or should be attracted to the “dad bod,” that make little biological sense – if we are talking about pure, unadulterated attraction. And let’s be honest, aren’t we always talking about that.

Without writing another word I could simply show a few pictures of dad’s that are not representative of the dad bod and you can judge for yourself these are attractive phenotypes.

DAD BODS

platek-abs John-270-8.4percentBF-800x1067 jk

And I would predict if placed along side pics of guys adorned with dad bod, the fitter men would win out in a selection of mates. See, I wouldn’t actually take much issue with the rationale laid out by Miss Pearson in her article if she had clearly stated what she meant by “attractive.” She is clearly talking about a long-term mate. In evolutionary biology selection of long-term versus short-term mates is well understood. The data convincingly, across species, show that females select to mate with (i.e. deem sexually attractive) those males that phenotypically represent the “best genes”, because it’s those very genes that have allowed such males to outcompete for reproductive access and it’s those genes that will allow her progeny to do the same. It is these males that express phenotypic honest biological signals of “good genes” that typically get chosen for short-term mating; i.e. one night stands, short affairs, etc.  This is so well-understood in the scientific community that it is just about taken as pure fact, while the layperson is commonly misled by ideas of so-called monogamous species and articles like the one cited here, the biology just doesn’t support it.

Nature does not reward the lazy. Nature penalizes those that do not strive for optimum. And nowhere is this more evident than in the mating context. The mating game is a harsh place in nature and can result in lifelong virginity and/or death to males that do not put a metabolic, physiological, and behavioral premium on sexually selected traits (known sometimes in social sciences as secondary sexual characteristics). Take for example Chiosagnathus, the Darwin beetle. The male is much larger than the female and carries pincers that span almost the length of his body.

darwin-beetle-825x493

This is clearly a disadvantage for the male. These huge pincers slow the male from escaping predation, but he cares not about predation, it is mating that he cares about, and only mating. The giant pincers of the Darwin beetle are used to wrestle with other male Darwin beetles, the victor of such wrestling matches gets uninterrupted mating access with females. Or, take for example a number of avian (bird) species. Many people hold the false notion that birds are monogamous and nothing could be further from the truth. Agopornis, commonly known as the “love bird” exemplifies this notion. Scientists have DNA paternity tested clutches of love bird eggs and for any given clutch there’s a probability that every egg could be sired by a different male! And, interestingly enough, it’s often the case that NONE of the eggs have been sired by the in-pair copulatory male; i.e. the male that sits on the eggs with her. And this is where I think we get to the differences between preferences for dad bod versus jacked dad. Nowhere in nature is the less optimal rewarded, except under the circumstances of paternal investment. You will never see a female Darwin beetle fly after the loser of a wrestling match. Nor will you see ungulates (hooved mammals) chase after the loser of male-male competition for mating access. You will, on occasion see females spend time with lesser males and even offer sexual access to these males, but this is usually during a non-reproductive part of their estrous cycle.

And if you don’t think this happens in humans you are dead wrong – just go watch an episode of Jerry Springer! Extra-pair paternity (paternity as a result of an affair) is estimated to be between 12 and 34% Yep, you read that correctly: upwards of 1 out of every three children could be sired by a guy who is not the “dad” on record. And the data are fairly unequivocal about the types of guys that do the siring and they don’t have ‘dad bods’, rather they express optimal levels of masculinity (muscularity, low body fat, physical prowess, strength, etc). In fact, women report having affairs with guys that are more fit than their in-pair romantic partner. Additionally, there is good data showing that women selectively choose to engage with these men around the time of highest fertility risk (ovulation). These two types of guys have sometimes been referred to as “dads” versus “cads.”

MY THOUGHTS ON DAD BOD “BENEFITS”

In her article, Miss Pearson outlines a series of characteristic that are in line with evolutionary psychologists notion of a “dad” (relative to a “cad”). I will try to translate this as briefly as possible:

She notes “It (dad bod) doesn’t intimidate us.”  Of course not, guys who carry excess adipose tissue around the midsection and do not have a relative muscular stature also tend to have less of the androgen testosterone. Midline adipose tissue is an honest biological marker of that and testosterone levels are associated with male-male competitive violence and aggression toward offspring in the animal kingdom.

“We like to be the pretty one.” This statement alone undermines her entire argument by admitting that guys who are fit are attractive, sexually. And when it comes to human mating relative mate value is both a physical and psychological state, so it’s likely that if you prefer being the pretty one it’s based on insecurities about your own self-image. Better get that shit resolved because even dad bod guys will find that unattractive!

“Better cuddling.” So much truth, because fit guys are out fucking other girls or competing with other men. Who has time for cuddling when you look like a Spartan?

“Good eats.” Misery loves company and by the way most hard charging Power Athletes eat more calories than overweight men. It’s the training program that allows them to differentially convert food energy into muscle instead of store it as fat (insulin insensitivity and “science” like that).

“You know what you’re getting.” This just makes me sad. I will simply refer you to the images of dads posted here to ensure that women know settling is not something that has to be undertaken.

My last point about this: given the current state of health, wellness and fitness (or lack there of, remember we are in an obesity epidemic which predicts that the current generation of young people will be the first ever to not outlive their parents) do we really want to give people an excuse to be out of shape and strive for mediocrity? If for no other reason, children model the behaviors of their parents and simply signing your kid up for weekend sports isn’t the answer. If your kid doesn’t see you being active what message do you think they will take from that? And is that the message you want to give your kids/the future generation? To do what I say, not as I do. That it’s acceptable to be relatively unfit, we have pills for that? Not this dad. Not ever.

And if you think I’m wrong, then SHOW ME THE DATA.

The Author, Prof. Steven Platek, is a (single) dad of two, grandfather to three, boasts a 650 pound deadlift, 440+ squat, and has 8-10% body fat. He has also published over 60 peer-reviewed articles and is Vice President of the Applied Evolutionary Psychology Society.  

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AUTHOR

Steve (a.k.a. Prof. Booty) Platek

Steve is a Professor of evolutionary neuroscience, Power Athlete follower since 2011. He co-owns CrossFit Gwinnett in Buford, GA, where he hosts the CrossFIt Football seminar, and he is also a Co-host of Power Athlete Radio Podcast. He's edited three academic volumes and published over 50 peer-reviewed papers on the topic of attractiveness and evolutionary psychology. He is currently acting President of the Applied Evolutionary Psychology Society, an international society for advancing the topic of applied evolutionary science in medicine, psychology, and health and fitness. He founded the academic journal 'Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience'. He played competitive ice hockey growing up and has been a CrossFit coach since 2008.

18 Comments

  1. joshaustralia on May 8, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Steve,

    I’ve always wondered how hormonal contraception messes with the female preference for the ‘jacked dad’ during ovulation, as they prevent ovulation and as mentioned, women may permit mating access to lesser males during non-productive part of their estrous cycle.
    So with that in mind, could COC use be a potential factor for guys getting away with the ‘dad bod’ and still finding a mate?

  2. Steve (a.k.a. Prof. Booty) Platek on May 8, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    @JOSHAUSTRALIA what is COC?

  3. honeybadgernick on May 8, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Get em

  4. joshaustralia on May 8, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    Combined oral contraceptive* the most common hormonal contraceptive

  5. Rock Stanfield on May 8, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    Great article. I’m interested in the topic and looking to learn more. Where did you find your data on extra-pair paternity %’s and the frequency of women engaging during ovulation?

  6. Ingo B on May 9, 2015 at 9:04 am

    I think her article is part “empowering the lazy sheep to be lazy” and part “incite the masses with something controversial to get clicks”. It’s garbage, nonetheless, and if nothing else, serves as motivation for us all to train even more diligently.

    https://powerathletehq.com/wp-content/uploads/rtMedia/users/23/2015/01/PB081397-800×450.jpg

  7. Ingo B on May 9, 2015 at 9:06 am

    oops. Screwed up. Take 2.

  8. Steve (a.k.a. Prof. Booty) Platek on May 9, 2015 at 9:25 am

    oral contraceptive does alter behavior and preferences GREATLY – summarizing the literature here is beyond the scope of a reply post – but note it does affect behavior and choice. There are even incidences where dating couples decide to get married after marriage the women goes of oral / hormonal contraceptive and no longer is sexually attracted to the male! No shit!

    As for the data on extra pair paternity you might check out my book http://www.cambridge.org/US/academic/subjects/life-sciences/animal-behaviour/female-infidelity-and-paternal-uncertainty-evolutionary-perspectives-male-anti-cuckoldry-tactics

    Cheers. @ingob nice bro!

  9. Ben on May 9, 2015 at 9:55 am

    Knowledge bomb! I laughed out loud (literally) a few times during this.

    Logically it makes total sense. I’ve never read the literature on this topic but Steve is the expert.

    Personally I think this may be good for the PA nation. More guys will start believing the hype of having a “dad bod”. All of the PA nation jacked, healthy, attractive men will be reaping the benefits of being the more superior mates physically, sexually, and probably mentally.

    I’m intrigued to get the Female power athletes opinion on this.

    I’m also intrigued to hear the flip side of this. I’ve already heard the jokes about the “mom bod”, gross… but the media’s idea of sexually attractive females is wrong as well, imo. I don’t want to be with a thin frail looking female who wears an absurd amount of make up.

    Loved the post can’t wait to see more comments.

    Ben Kuch

  10. Ben Kucharik on May 9, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Knowledge bomb! I laughed out loud (literally) a few times during this.

    Logically it makes total sense. I’ve never read the literature on this topic but Steve is the expert.

    Personally I think this may be good for the PA nation. More guys will start believing the hype of having a “dad bod”. All of the PA nation jacked, healthy, attractive men will be reaping the benefits of being the more superior mates physically, sexually, and probably mentally.

    I’m intrigued to get the Female power athletes opinion on this.

    I’m also intrigued to hear the flip side of this. I’ve already heard the jokes about the “mom bod”, gross… but the media’s idea of sexually attractive females is wrong as well, imo. I don’t want to be with a thin frail looking female who wears an absurd amount of make up.

    Loved the post can’t wait to see more comments.

    Ben Kuch

  11. cory on May 10, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    Great post here. Thank you very much.

  12. Steve (a.k.a. Prof. Booty) Platek on May 11, 2015 at 4:20 am

    @benkuch i posted above – you can check out my book for more information in an easy-to-read edited volume format.

    Also, re women, they’re spartans too. What’s the quote: “Spartan women are the ONLY mothers of MEN” – I am with you on that frail shit. Remember optimal training prioritizes muscle development along species AND sex determinant paths that are natural. That is, all things being equal, which I know, they never are, if a man and a woman started at about the same weight, body fat, etc on a workout program – they’d both get fit. (longest run on sentence ever?) However, the (hormonally) healthy man would, in most cases get more jacked than the woman. This is the nature of sexual selection. The women would still get jacked in her own way. Making that attractive as well.

    There are psychological aspects here too: Think for example what you contemplate about persons when you see them and they have a noticeably fit versus un-fit body type. I am not one to judge, and tend to notice fit people above un-fit people – saying things like: he’s jacked, she’s fit, etc. The other day one of the mom’s on my kid’s flag football team reached out to hug her little man and she had demonstrably visible tear drop delts, perfectly chiseled, making that insertion into the biceps/triceps area of the arm look like that of a god(ess). I could tell: that’s not genetics! Immediately, that is attractive to people like us who train hard. But, to many that might be “ugly” intimidating. Weak men do not want Spartan women to dominate over them. Men were designed for domination and that psychology should ring true whether you are fit or fat!

    Anyhow, just my two cents.
    Cheers!

  13. Ingo B on May 11, 2015 at 7:12 am

    she had demonstrably visible tear drop delts, perfectly chiseled, making that insertion into the biceps/triceps area of the arm look like that of a god(ess).

    You must write romance novels in your spare time.

  14. Gavin on May 11, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    @booty, you are right on (of course). Look, they can write as many blog posts as they want, and they can list as many reasons as they want as to why a “dad-bod” is great, but what they cannot do is overcome their natural wiring that tells them they need an alpha male body in their lives. It just isn’t possible. That alpha male body means you can hunt, provide for your family, and if times get really lean you can kick the neighbor’s ass and take all of his food and property for your own. Even further down the psychological ladder, that alpha male body means OTHER women are attracted to you, which makes your wife/SO all the more attracted to you.

    For the guys: Yes, what I’m alluding to is that if your wife or SO tells you she likes your dad-bod, you had better make sure that those little things calling you “dad” are actually yours, because if she likes you dad-bod at home then there is a high probability she is liking some alpha male’s body outside of the home. It’s just the way it is.

    Note: it is possible to be too jacked, but it’s tough to get there. Women have that magic .7 waist-to-hip ratio that Booty talks about…and guys also have a magic jacked ratio where women adore them and then suddenly aren’t too fond of them. You’ll know it when it happens.

  15. Steve (a.k.a. Prof. Booty) Platek on May 11, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    @ingob shhhh.

    @GAVIN the most intellectual comment yet: “you are right on (of course).”
    for dudes it’s shoulder-to-hip ratio and great than one, up to about 2 is optimal 1 or lower, no bueno; correlates with all sorts of metrics: sperm quality being the most important. all a woman really wants when she says she wants to fuck you is your baby – even if taking hormonal contraception, evolutionary designs are old and contraception is too novel to have enacted any robust evolutionary changes to the brain/psychology of animals.

    Cheers for the kind words

  16. Gavin on May 12, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Meh, let them have their moment. We are getting Jacked.

  17. FVWildcat on July 28, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Help me out here. Is dad bod unattractive or attractive? Is mom bod unattractive or attractive? Explain.

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