We\u2019ve all seen the eye-catching marketing slogans. \u201cLose those love handles\u201d, \u201cGet ripped now\u201d, \u201cFrom dad-bod to Greek God\u201d. These clever and witty fitness taglines may sound interesting, but they represent something fundamentally wrong with our society\u2014the obsession with body image. Don\u2019t get me wrong, it\u2019s absolutely important to maintain your health. To exercise and eat nutritious food. It may even give you an advantage in life to look a certain way physically. Especially if it boosts your professional and romantic prospects. But that is up to the individual, and we as a society shouldn\u2019t dictate what people choose to do with their bodies. And yet for a long time many have done nothing but shame people for how they look, for not being thin or toned or fit enough. A toxic trend possibly propagated by multinational wellness industries and conglomerates. We may think that women are the only victims of this unhealthy marketing. But men, especially fathers, face as much discrimination for the way they look as much as mothers do. Male Body-Shaming and the 'Dad-Bod' Before conventional beauty standards became a thing, humankind was more than happy to embrace all types of bodies. But it wasn\u2019t until the 19th century when body image suddenly became a big deal. These days wellness industries like to home in on vulnerable target groups, those who may be easier prey for the next fitness gimmick. For the male population, these include men with what many influencers call the 'dad-bod'. Contrary to its name, the dad-bod is not exclusive to only fathers. Single men who may have a little paunch and do not appear athletic can also have dad-bods. Some people also use the term 'skinny-fat' and the like. While it used to be a deeply shameful insult, more and more women are coming out of the woodwork saying that they much prefer softer, rounder men than big, buff ones. Even in Malaysia, for example, you can see that almost all the female celebrities have spouses with normal-looking bodies. Not overly muscular, but not overweight either. While this may be a generalisation, it does give hope that the typical ideal male body may just be another social construct, and not an accurate representation of what\u2019s truly attractive to women. But this doesn\u2019t necessarily mean the body-shaming stops. Everyone experiences fat-shaming. If not from others, then from themselves. We can sometimes be harsh critics of our own physical appearance. More so than strangers on the street or our acquaintances. Some parents may unintentionally body shame their own kids too. That is why more and more people are experiencing body dysmorphia, which is feeling dissatisfaction, depression and even downright loathing for your own physical appearance. It\u2019s really bad when you realise that this is all subliminal societal conditioning and worse when it\u2019s your close acquaintances who propagate the trend. That said people who constantly go out of their way to point out your dad-bod don\u2019t deserve a place in your life. Not when you are completely comfortable in your own skin, as both a man and a father. Fatherhood is a Full-Time Job Younger dads may find that they have less and less time to dedicate to the gym. Or the track or court, whichever floats their boat. They may be occupied with work all day before rushing home to see the baby. As a young parent, you may want to spend as much time as you can with your first child. It\u2019s only natural. Not to mention all the other fatherly chores that await once you get home. After all, we can\u2019t have the missus doing all the work alone, right? Between nightly feedings and diaper changes, the gym is going all the way down on your to-do-list. Even after your kids grow up a bit you may not have time to truly exercise until the weekend due to work responsibilities. Moreover, not everyone has the energy to work out after a long-day at the office. These may sound like excuses, but everyone\u2019s body functions differently. It all depends on your biological battery. Some men stay charged up the entire day, others may run dry before noon. The \u2018Greek God Physique\u2019 Is Not Sustainable Don\u2019t be fooled by those magazine covers full of chiselled models with six-pack abs. For a majority of the human population, such body ideals are unattainable. And frankly speaking, expensive to maintain. Not many people think about the diet, dedication, and time that goes into manufacturing a body like that. Unless you\u2019re a professional bodybuilder, fitness guru, or have a career in an industry where physical appearance is important, you don\u2019t really need a six-pack. That is not to say that we can\u2019t achieve a better-looking body image, if that is truly what we desire. However, the most the rest of us mere mortals can do is probably get a little toned, just so our shirts fit a little better. And to maintain a healthier body. We may not strictly control our diets or forego our favourite guilty pleasures. Because let\u2019s be honest, life without pizza, doughnuts and ice-cream is a sad life indeed. However, props to the fit dads who make it their business to maintain their physique well into old age. The Dad-Bod Is Inevitable Unless you have a supernatural metabolism, most men eventually gain a little bit of weight as they age. The titular 'MEN-o-pause' that afflicts every member of the male species more or less has the same effect as what women go through. Perhaps to a lesser extent, but they may still have trouble keeping the weight off. Or equally, achieving any muscle gain at all. Older men may also experience other symptoms such as declining testosterone levels as a result of hormonal changes. That said, lots of men are not genetically predisposed for that 'Greek God' body. They are not blessed with the biological advantages that other men may have when it comes to muscle gain and fat loss. Even then those who do lead an athletic lifestyle will slowly lose their gains overtime, despite all the decades and years of hard-work at the gym. Not to rain on anyone\u2019s parade, but there will eventually be a time where your body naturally wants to retire. You will eventually get tired faster; your knees start to ache and you don\u2019t recover as quickly as when you were young. And there\u2019s nothing wrong with that. We must all face the inevitability of our own obsolescence. Embracing the Dad-Bod in All its Forms The obsession with muscles in the world of men is ridiculous at times, but understandable. There must be some psychological reason why that particular body image started becoming popular in the first place. But we must also acknowledge that other body types can be just as attractive. Even now, more women have considered the dad-bod as the new male sex symbol. Which may not actually be a surprise. Compared to the scary gym-bod that some men have, some single women may prefer less intimidating-looking men as partners. As we evolve, more women have stepped into positions of power, and may actually prefer caretakers and nurturers instead. Someone who can do a good job of taking care of the young ones. Whatever the case may be, it is time we start embracing dad-bods and stop being unkind to those who do have one. I believe that with the rise of the body positivity movement, more and more people are starting to accept the dad-bod. After all, there is more to men than their bodies, what matters is what\u2019s on the inside. And a man with just a great body pales in comparison to one with a good heart. Mummies, don't miss out on your chance to get limited Motherhood.com.my vouchers today by casting your Motherhood Choice Awards 2022 votes here! For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!