Travis Kelce ‘Dad Bod’ Discourse Has Me Ready to Sign Off for the Weekend

The tight end who won the Super Bowl a month ago is essentially being likened to the Pillsbury Doughboy because his body doesn't look like a steroid-addled fitness influencer's, and I think that's all the capacity I have for the internet this week!

Travis Kelce ‘Dad Bod’ Discourse Has Me Ready to Sign Off for the Weekend

This has truly been a banner week for the internet, from the respective discourses surrounding a Cut essay by a young woman besotted with the otherworldly wisdom of *checks notes* a 30-year-old man to the regurgitated talking points about “ableism” and tipping service workers to the reason I’ve brought you here today, the heated debate about whether Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has a “dad bod,” based on very normal, very cute pap snaps of him and girlfriend Taylor Swift on vacation in the Bahamas.

To those saying that Kelce has a “dad bod” I say: No. No, Kelce, who won the Super Bowl in February, does not have the body composition of a middle-aged, suburban father of three who falls asleep in a La-Z-Boy recliner in his living room two minutes into watching a Pixar movie with his kids. But, as some have pointed out, since he doesn’t have the body of a steroid-addled, Andrew Tate-adjacent fitness influencer, tabloids like the Daily Mail and New York Post have labeled Kelce’s a “dad bod.”

“Women love men with ‘dad bods’ like Travis Kelce—and there’s a surprising scientific reason why,” reads one Friday headline from the Post. From In Style: “Taylor Swift Reportedly Loves Travis Kelce’s ‘Dad Bod.'” And a Daily Mail story headline references Kelce’s podcast this week: “Travis Kelce defends his ‘Dad bod’ after Chiefs star and Taylor Swift were spotted on the beach together in the Bahamas: ‘It’s March!'” On Wednesday’s episode of New Heights, Kelce and his brother Jason joked about their off-season bodies: “We’re in the same weight class now! It’s March! We’re in the same weight class right now,” Kelce said.

I have to ask, at this point: Do chronically online social media users even know what human bodies look like…? Obviously, men like Kelce aren’t subject to a fraction of the bodily scrutiny that women face. But the fact that this is how we’re talking about Kelce’s body means the goalposts of what constitutes a “dad bod” are continuing to shift and anything that isn’t the build of an MMA fighter is now, somehow, a “dad bod.” Frankly, I’m not so much worried about men and male body image as I am that people in today’s digital age just… don’t know what anyone or anything is supposed to look like anymore!

And here’s what I’ll say about “dad bods” and “dad bod” discourse more broadly: The term itself has long been understood as an offshoot of patriarchal double standards that emerged in the early 2010s to normalize dads being “out-of-shape,” whereas women are supposed to be perpetually thin even through childbirth and motherhood. That is to say, it’s not even supposed to be a derogatory term, nor is having a “dad bod” a bad thing to defend Kelce from. It’s just that… this man does not have a dad bod! Anyone who thinks he does needs to sign off! Frankly, I need to sign off just from reading some of these headlines!!

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