So, out-of-shape older guys everywhere can take comfort in their “dad bods,” sedentary lifestyles, and low-testosterone levels, right? Because, despite all other evidence, women must really be attracted to that older dad next door who let himself go, over Hugh Jackman, right?
No and no.
Actually reading the article reveals a very different conclusion than “women are attracted to fat older dads.” The Yale professor quoted in the article, Richard Bribiescas doesn’t really say much about attraction.
He does quote research that fathers have lower testosterone levels, which some studies associate with lower risk of various diseases. So, slightly overweight dads may very well live longer than in-shape, muscular dads due to their lower testosterone levels.
Bribiescas also argues, “becoming more podgy makes dads more likely to invest their time in their children rather than looking for other women…” and “this change in body composition…facilitates increased survivorship and, hypothetically, a hormonal milieu that would more effectively promote and support paternal investment.”
In other words, low testosterone levels after having a child make it more likely a dad will be faithful to his mate and child. This isn’t really news for people who study this sort of thing, since it is well-known in evolutionary psychology circles and validated by research in 2011.
It also makes perfect sense that men would evolve to be more caring towards their mates and offspring during the exact period when survival of the offspring is the most precarious. So, of course new fathers will have lower testosterone levels than other guys.
The mistake the author of the original article makes is concluding that because fat dads are more likely to live longer and have greater paternal investment, fat and older dads must be more attractive to women.
Trust me, being old and overweight with low testosterone definitely isn’t an attraction strategy. Research (and common experience) actually seems to show the opposite. Women are much more attracted to muscular guys, but tend to choose more stable guys to be in a relationship with. In fact, in the 2011 study mentioned above, it was higher testosterone guys who were more likely to become fathers to begin with, but their testosterone levels dropped once they became dads.
So, women aren’t attracted to overweight, lower-testosterone guys. They are attracted to the opposite, but seem quite happy when these high-T guys become cute and sensitive dads thanks to a sharp drop in T levels for a short period in the life of their child.
Unfortunately, this means E.L. James likely won’t be writing a follow-up to Fifty Shades of Grey where powerful and fit Christian Grey is replaced by a fat dad who babysits his kids regularly and practices his active listening skills, even though that would probably be a much better story than the original.
So, sorry guys, science really hasn’t validated the “dad bod” lifestyle. You still have to go to the gym tonight.