Okay, obviously Michelangelo didn’t invent the “dad-bod” — it was obviously invented by the first ever dad, God, who passed it on to the second ever dad, Adam, who… had two sons, Cain and Abel, who… must have procreated with each other and thus become dads, and thus had dad-bods.
But all blasphemy aside, Michelangelo might not have invented the dad-bod, but it seems evident that he is the man who enshrined the dad-bod as the pinnacle of male physical Beauty.
Now I know what you’re thinking: what about the David? Surely his bod is more ‘god’ than ‘dad,’ right?
And you are of course 100% correct; the taut yet delicate body of the David has not gone unnoticed. The important point here, however, is context:
According to the official website of the Galleria Dell’Academia, which houses the statue, Michelangelo sculpted the David between the years of 1501 and 1504. According to wikipedia, which lists Michelangelo’s birth year as 1475, this means that Michelangelo was between the ages of 26 and 29 when he sculpted his most famous sculpture.
Naturally it stands to reason that when Michelangelo was in the virile prime of his twenties he would idealize a youthful, muscular, masculine male figure. He was young, and probably yoked out of his mind (marble is heavy), so he sculpted a man in his own image and told us that this, THIS, was Beauty.
Now fast-forward to 1508. Michelangelo is now in his thirties. His body, once his most precious asset, is fading. He grows back hairs. He puts on weight. He sags. So what does Michelangelo do? Why he creates a new ideal for the masculine body: he creates the dad-bod.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at the bodies depicted in Michelangelo’s utterly divine Sistine Chapel ceiling (painted between 1508 and 1512, when the master was well into his thirties):
Hmm.. The bodies aren’t out of shape, per se. You can tell that there is/was definitely some muscle there, but that it’s kind of covered by a bloated layer. And they’re not unattractive. They would probably look great under a polo, or a button down with two buttons unbuttoned, showing just a peek of chest hair; maybe throw on some khakis…
These are undeniably dad-bods. With a single stroke of his brush Michelangelo changed everything Renaissance-era men and women knew about male beauty.
Michelangelo used his artistic bully-pulpit to change the entire rules of male beauty — and to change them in his favor. He became attractive again not by changing his body, but by changing what we deem to be attractive. After establishing the dad-bod, his thirty-year-old body, as the capital-M capital-B “Male Body,” he reclaimed his stature as an attractive man. To the young women — and men — that he sought, Michelangelo once again became Beautiful.
Michelangelo’s decision to fight against his own aging body by changing the standard of male beauty has since shaped every aspect of modern life: the dad-bod craze, The King of Queens, the persistent attractiveness of late-model Leonardo DiCaprio. Everything we think about the male form can be traced back to Michelangelo.
The Conclusion: Michelangelo definitely invented the dad-bod.