Cultural Appropriation of “Dad Bods”


Recently many people have been in an uproar in regards to Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl performance. It is not the performance that is being criticized, but instead her body. During her performance she changed into a top exposing her stomach and within minutes social media was blowing up with hateful comments directed towards the size of her stomach. Once Lady Gaga learned about these disgusting comments she immediately responded with a statement telling the world that she is proud of her body and believes everyone should be. Today, women are almost always under fire for how they look. One can never seem to fit society’s “body standards” and is either overweight or underweight.

On the flip side, society is currently culturally appropriating the term “dad bods”. This term was created due to the pressure on middle aged men to go to the gym and fit society’s standards of a buff washboard ab figure. So instead of society jumping on men and criticizing them for their “dad bod”, they are understanding and accept the men for who they are whether that be junk food eaters or gymaholics. So why is society so quick to judge women but not men?

This can seem very conflicting to some because the only thing different in the two body situations is gender. This situation connects strongly with the discussion and display of the term body in both The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison and the Keyword essay Body by Kelly Hager. In the keywords essay Body written by Kelly Hager she speaks deeply about “marginalized bodies” due to being a minority or of a specific race. In this situation, Lady Gaga, the social minority, is considered to have a “fat body” which is not the stereotypical model thin body society idolizes today. This same hatred is not portrayed on men with dad bods because they are the social majority. In The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison the toll of body marginalization is clearly shown through the main character Pecola. Also, this story displays many of the negative effects idealizing one body type and marginalizing others can have on human beings. Lady Gaga’s statement about how she believes everyone should be proud of their body is easier said than done in society today, but I believe it is the only way one can veer away from such negative comments.

6 thoughts on “Cultural Appropriation of “Dad Bods””

  1. Awesome post! I remember after the Super Bowl, reading the comments of people body-shaming her and I was absolutely disgusted. Not only is she completely healthy, but she did not fit what people were saying about her body. Lady Gaga is someone who has always been an activist for body positivity and though she might be able to take the insults of someone attacking her perfectly healthy body, millions of young girls and women who see these comments, are surely comparing their body to Lady Gaga’s. Mainstream media and its perception of beauty is toxic and I think it is extremely important to continue to promote body positivity as perceptions of beauty continues to evolve and develop.

  2. This is a very interesting post and I agree with everything you said about there being a double standard for what men’s and women’s bodies are expected to look like. I am wondering if this comparison would be different with non-white individuals, creating another layer of marginalization apart from gender. Describing Lady Gaga as a social minority works in the context of comparing her experience with that of a white male, however in society at large, Lady Gaga is a social majority as a white women. It would be interesting to find out if a person of color in her same situation would speak up and fight this double standard, or if this non-white narrative would be excluded as it often is in today’s society.

  3. I think that this post is super interesting. When Lady Gaga was receiving all of the insults towards her body right after the Superbowl I was absolutely disgusted and remember having the thought, “If these people think she is fat, I would hate to hear what they would say about me!” But I had never thought to link that to the new-ish term “dad-bod.” Although the term frequently comes up in conversations with my friends (usually as a joke), I had never realized how the term was allowing men to be more accepting of their bodies, while continuing to set an impossible standard for women’s bodies.

  4. Hi Madison!!
    I love this article, and I think it is interesting to acknowledge the lack of the societal double standards for this topic. As a woman, I personally think that Lady Gaga looked great. However, Gaga’s significance was not to just “look good” but perform, hence the fact that she is a singer. I think it is great that she was able to stand up not only for herself, but for other women who have to conform to these stereotypes and societal expectations in relation to beauty standards. Learning about the recent “dad bod” trends, I think it is ridiculous how women are pressured to obtain a certain type of appearance in order to even be considered desirable, whereas men have it a million times easier. What if there was a “mom bod”? How would this change things? I really enjoyed the connections that you made to the Keywords Essay on Body, as well as The Bluest Eyes, as beauty standards are the common underlying themes of those texts, and those themes are still just as prominent in reality nowadays.

  5. I really like how you connected examples of men and women’s bodies being talked about on social media. You did a good job of pointing out the double standard that exists in today’s society. Lady Gaga did the right thing in making a statement that she is proud of her body, as this hopefully will help the people who look up to her to be more accepting of their own bodies in a social climate that tells them not to.

  6. I really liked this comparison. There is a double standard when it comes to body size and gender. Women are expected to be thinner while it’s still more socially acceptable to be overweight as a man. I think that this example can also be related to the Keyword essay “Identity”, especially how the man in the tweet you included above directly refers to himself as having a “dad bod.”

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