The Real Dad Bod
June 23, 2015 MVP Blog comments
What makes a dad bod? College students describe it as an imperfect, but still attractive, male physique. But NYTimes asked readers to tell us about the original model — a body owned and operated by an actual dad. Many of you sent us stories about dad bods that reflect a life of experience, adventure and physical challenges.
To celebrate Father’s Day, we’re sharing a selection of stories from dads and the people who love them about what having a dad bod really means.
My dad’s bod has been through years of hiking, telemarking and lazy Sunday afternoons. Cleverly covered with “comfy sweatshirt,” my dad’s bod includes legs, strong from the motion of Nordic skiing, and hands worn from holding piping cups of hot chocolate and flipping a page in a poetry book. The strongest part of my dad’s bod is a hug, given after making it to the top of the hike on Independence Pass, or just when we both need one. My father’s body and mind taught my body and mind to become infatuated with and appreciate the great outdoors. My dad’s bod is worn with aspen leaves and hiking boots.
—Sage Lighthill Reynolds
This dad bod is participating in the annual 4th of July Watermelon Eating Contest in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Every year Dad braves the crowd, locals and visitors alike, to accept the challenge of very fast watermelon eating. Spectators gather for the somewhat gruesome event, with watermelon seeds spewing left and right and juice dripping down faces of many men of all ages.
Only one emerges the victor — and it’s never him. “The rules are never clear!” he complains. “They never check the rinds to assess the ratio of leftover pink to remaining green.” Dad offers lots of excuses, struggling to keep his reputation intact as we laugh and shake our heads. Maybe next year.
Born in India, but raised in Buffalo, N.Y., Dad has always been proud of his roots and the culture in which he grew up. His name is Ajoy, as in, “It’s ‘Ajoy’ to know your dad!” Yes, everyone in my family has definitely heard that one before. The plays on my dad’s name are so common that he’s even asked Siri on his iPhone to call him “Ajoy to the World.” This dad bod is my role model, my adviser, my number one fan and my hero. His catchphrase when he used to drop me off at school was “Check your work.”
—Caitlin Karna, Dallas
The kids could tolerate the time it took to do elevation gains of 3,000 to 4,000 feet, but after that it was not as much fun for them. My wife had to educate me on not overdoing it with the children, and keeping it enjoyable. Good advice for all energetic dads. The bod in the photo still carries me to this day, in all four seasons. More recently we’ve been trekking the Andes and the Alps, along with the Rockies. I still carry packs but can no longer pull kids. I exercise my dad bod regularly, inspired by my mother, who lived to 100, remaining active and enthusiastic to the end. I intend to do the same.
—Alex MacDonald, New Brunswick, Canada
My second son was born early in the morning of March 31, 2015, the day after my 33rd birthday. That night, I had a seizure for the first time in my life. I had just arrived at the hospital after bringing my wife, Heather, a celebratory takeout dinner from our local Indian restaurant. After putting the food down and hugging Heather and our friend Claire, I started to make a low guttural sound, and collapsed to the floor in convulsions. Heather, holding our newborn, thought she was watching me die. Nurses and doctors came running, eventually calling for security to restrain me.
The seizure was a wake-up that it was time to take my health more seriously. I have two kids, I rarely work out (despite a gym membership), and I don’t eat enough veggies. Since March 31, I have cut out the sweets. I didn’t finish the birthday cake my family made (or the one my colleagues got me). I try to work out more, and I eat more salad. In doing so, I’ve lost 10 pounds. Today, I’m thankful for my health.
—Brendan Dickinson, Darien, Conn.
Reborn at his birth.
Diapers sleep in my dreams.
My son makes me strong.
—Justin Cawley, N.Y.C.
This dad is a 45-year-old lawyer who lives in West Orange, N.J., and works in Manhattan. He is father to a great (and really tall) 5-year-old, Zane, and husband to a wonderful wife, Randi. This dad is originally from South Ozone Park, N.Y. This dad lived through the crack wars of the late ’80s and early ’90s and often thought that he might not live to see 25 or 30.
This dad played basketball in high school, college and many leagues in N.Y.C. and found that sports gave him a way out of his circumstances, both mentally and physically. The exercise and camaraderie of basketball gave him strength and a release of stress, enabling him to cope with life’s everyday challenges. Although he has had many injuries and surgeries (knee, Achilles, etc,) and still experiences some pain, this dad will never give up sports or exercise. This dad plays basketball with his son every Saturday morning, even when every body part hurts.
This dad works long hours as an attorney, but he tries to make it home every night from N.Y.C. to N.J. before his son’s bedtime. This dad loves hugging his son every morning when he leaves for work and every night when he arrives back home.
—Loren Forrest, West Orange, N.J.
A “dad bod” is the ability to lift your 5-year-old into her bunk bed after you kiss and hug her goodnight. A “dad bod” is holding your 3-month-old, while simultaneously picking up your toddler with the other arm. A “dad bod” includes a heart for skinned knees, finger painting and teaching your kiddo to ride a bike. The “dad bod” legs should be able to leap over Legos, and race after wandering 2-year-olds. A “dad bod’s” hands should be able to hold open large, illustrated books and play stringed instruments.The eyes of a “dad bod” are soft, yet firm, welcoming, and a bit mischievous. A “dad bod” should have feet that are good for playing airplane and maybe just a touch stinky so that their kiddos always have something about which to giggle. “Dad bods” are always tall, mythically gigantic even, no matter what their driver’s license says. Just like their mom-bod counterparts, dad bods are unique, distinctive and imperfect. They smell like grease or car oil, like suits and ties or chalkboard dust. Their bodies are the strengths to their child’s weaknesses; they are meant to complement each other.
—Janna Stewart, Colorado Springs, Colo.
My dad is 48 years old and will be 49 in July. I am so proud of him because he eats healthy food and exercises every day and always has exercised his entire life. He recently completed an Ironman Triathlon, which is a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride followed by running a marathon (26.2 miles). He is able to do all this because he never lets his age affect his attitude. He is disciplined in rarely missing a workout. So for me he represents what the real dad bod is today.
—Piper, Piseco Lake, N.Y.
This photo shows off the dad I’ve known my whole 45-year-old life. Tom is a father of 5 and a grandfather of 8 who is a patriarch of fitness, health and joy. When I was a child, he made activities like golf fun by letting us cartwheel down the fairway or bring neighborhood kids along to play. Now, at age 77, he just “shot his age” for the second time ever, a lifetime goal he would have been thrilled to achieve only once.
When I think about what a father should be — what a “dad bod” is — I don’t think of beer bellies or recliners; I think of after-dinner bike rides to get an ice-cream cone. I think of balance and fun, of laughter and play. I am so grateful that my dad’s “bod” can still chase my kids and teach them the finer points of a sand shot.
—Kerry E. Rourke, Salem, Mass.