women in military fatigues, man in military fatigue

baleficent1/TikTok

Female soldier calls out military’s double standards for weight, sparking debate in viral TikTok

Fellow service members shared their struggles with height and weight tests in the comments.

 

Kathleen Wong

Internet Culture

Published Nov 8, 2021   Updated Nov 10, 2021, 10:31 am CST

A viral TikTok video is calling out the outdated double standards women face when it comes to weight restrictions in the military, also called body composition standards.

Belen Martinez, known as @baleficent1 on TikTok, is in the U.S. Army and posted the video on Oct. 15. The TikTok shows herself and three other military women who are considered fat based on the U.S. military body composition standard, which includes weight ranges for heights. The video, which has over 2 million views, then pans to a man who passed.

The comparison in the video is intended to show the double standards in body composition expectations for men and women. Women with significant muscle mass are often considered overweight by the military despite being fit and strong while the male numbers account for muscle mass.

In the comments of the TikTok, other female military TikTokers shared the alarming things like “didn’t eat or drink for 48 hours” or “a lot days of just cardio and sauna” to try to lower their weight and pass their height and weight test.

“…Sat in a sauna wearing sweats for four hours,” said TikTok user Heather G. “Did that with the buddy systems so if one of us starts to pass out we could drag them out.”

Martinez shared in the comments that she will be talking more about body dysmorphia and eating disorders for people in the military on the Wisconsin-based military podcast Fragcast. As of Nov. 8, the episode featuring Martinez has not been released.

In another TikTok on Oct. 21, Martinez explains how some branches of the military, like the Marines, have different weight and height charts for males and females. Some even have combined requirements, like the Air Force. Many people in the comments called these standards “outdated.”

The current standards date back to 2002—the military has implemented standards for service members’ weight since 1984. The Department of Defense’s body composition standards are have been called controversial by many, including the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS), for using outdated methods of measurement like Body Mass Index, or BMI. BMI has been found to discriminate against race and misidentify athletic or muscular people as overweight and therefore unhealthy. The DACOWITS 2019 Annual Report stated the current “guidelines are based on outdated science and can contribute to unfair evaluations for some Service members.”

The Daily Dot has reached out to Martinez for comment.


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*First Published: Nov 8, 2021, 5:29 pm CST