A chiseled six pack, athletic physique and toned buttocks are no longer in for men as the notion of the "dad bod" has recently gone viral.
The dad bod is a man who looks as if he may frequently go to the gym, but a thick layer of belly fat reveals a high-carb, junk-food and beer-induced diet.
Some male celebrities who have these fleshy bods include Leonardo Dicaprio and Jason Segel.
I am happy to report good news and bad news about this new phenomenon. The good news is men who didn't quite feel "summer-time fine" can now flaunt their jiggle comfortably and confidently at beaches nationwide. The bad news is that body image stereotypes are still being stuffed into our perceptions to control what's acceptable or not.
To address the former, the dad bod is not limited to fathers who've decided to lounge instead of lunge after having a kid or two. With obesity on the rise in our country and McDonald's introducing a "build-your-own-burger" station, there are many men who don't look like "Thor" actor Chris Hemsworth.
Realistically, actors like Hemsworth and Channing Tatum represent a small percentage of men, so a male figure that represents a majority can cause society to stop comparing masculinity to muscles.
With a slew of women admitting that they feel more comfortable with their physique by dating a man with a dad bod, it could also perpetuate into women not feeling so insecure about their not-so-perfect bodies. This is not because they can boost their egos by modeling their slender hour-glass form next to their man's muffin top, but because they can adopt the same confidence in order to love themselves, no matter their size or shape.
Personally, I embarked on a health journey two years ago. After struggling with body insecurities for a majority of my teenage years, my journey consisted of learning how to develop a clean, processed-free diet, workout regimen and eliminating my perception of which body type is deemed appealing.
I learned to stop comparing myself to digitized prototypes in order to gain mental self-esteem, which brings me to my next point — the bad news.
On the surface, it may seem that society is finally starting to accept people for who they are, but this may not be the case.
Recently, Jon Stewart addressed the dad bod on The Daily Show with Kristen Schaal, Senior Women's Issues Correspondent. Schaal scrutinized the physique by contrasting it to "Momshells," women in Hollywood who are able to shed their baby weight in an unrealistic time frame.
The point that Schaal raised caused me to wonder why there isn't a new acceptance for a counterpart called the "mom bod." These days, high-end fashion magazines such as Vogue and Harper's Bazaar aren't opting to dedigate covers to feature a proud celebrity mom donning hallow stretch marks on her abdomen. Women are still stuck dealing with unrealistic body images, while men may be forced to move their body image from one box to another.
What about the men who are bigger than the slender fat of the dad bod image, or the ones who are naturally skinny and have a fast metabolism to blame for their inability to gain weight?
As I mentioned before, self-esteem is mental, although we may have been taught otherwise. Once an individual accepts the fact that imperfections distinguish our identities, they will no longer strive for an image they may never look like.
So to all you guys who have let out a sigh of relief because of the dad bod craze, are you relieved because you can finally flaunt your healthy selves, or are you just replacing one mask of insecurity for another?
Shanae Hardy is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Email her at ShanaeH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.