Lately, everyone seems to be talking about dad bods- a male body type characterized by a beer gut, lack of muscles, and unsightly tan lines. Word is, women go crazy for this body type. But here’s the problem: there’s no evidence for that. The original article that kicked off the dad bod craze provided zero evidence that women like the dad bod, beyond stating the the author’s roommate used to be into it. Subsequent articles simply cited this first article, or each other, as evidence.
In fact, scientists have been studying both male and female visual attractiveness for decades, so there’s no need to guess at what women are attracted to. Here’s what the science actually says.
1. Women prefer fit men
There have been many, many studies on what women actually find attractive in a man, and they always come to the same conclusion: women like men with athletic figures. Specifically, women show a strong preference for guys with broad shoulders and narrow waists. Women also have a slight preference for guys with broad, muscular chests.
This doesn’t mean that women like guys who look like bodybuilders, and it doesn’t mean you need to start taking steroids and eating 5 pounds of steak a day.The ideal male physique appears to be closer to Brad Pitt’s look in Fight Club, which is entirely achievable to the average guy if he’s willing to work for it. So, instead of trading your gym membership for a beer collection, try to trim some weight off your midsection and add a few pounds to your shoulders.
2. Muscular men have more sex than flabby men
Traditional stereotypes hold that big guys with ripped abs and huge arms get laid like rock stars, while guys who are out of shape struggle with women. On the other hand, the recent dad bod trend suggests the reverse; that guys with flabbier physiques should be getting more female attention than they can handle. So which is it?
According to researchers at UCLA, the stereotypes win this round. More muscular men have significantly more sex with more partners. Burly guys are also twice as likely to have short flings or one night stands, compared to less muscular men. Once again though, men who are toned and moderately muscular seem to have an edge over men who are downright huge.
3. Dad beards aren’t sexy
Quick, what style of facial hair do you associate with fathers- clean shaven, stubble, or full beards? Research shows that most people, both male and female, view men with full beards as ideal fathers. Men also tend to think that bearded men are the most attractive, but women disagree– they think men with heavy stubble are the most attractive, with the light stubble, full beard, and clean-shaven looks all tied for a distant second place.
The takeaway: if you’re desperate to have kids and looking for a woman to be your baby momma, a beard might be the way to go. On the other hand, if you’re like the 95% of guys who want to look sexy, think less Billy Mays and more Colin Farrell.
4. The dad bod makes you look like everyone else
Now I’ll admit that this one isn’t based on science- just cold, hard common sense. Look at the guys around you next time you’re out and about. Count the number of dad bods you see. Now, bearing in mind just how many guys are rocking the dad bod, how do you stand out with one? To get extraordinary results in your love life, you need to be an extraordinary guy- and it helps if you look the part by making the effort to be an attractive man.
5. You’ll tend to date women who look like you
All of this talk about the dad bod carries a strong implication that men with dad bods can attract the hottest women – the models, the beach babes, the sexy librarians. Yet science says that just isn’t true. Instead, what happens is assortative mating, a process by which people pair off with people who are much like themselves. In other words, guys with dad bods end up with women who have the same body type, toned women end up with toned men, and so on.
This applies to non-physical qualities too – smart men end up with smart women, artistic men end up with artistic women, and so on. So being an attractive man ultimately comes down to one thing: identify your ideal woman, and become the male counterpart to that ideal woman.
Featured photo credit: Triumphant/Tony Alter via flickr.com