As a 2013 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, the author was discharged in 2015 for being deemed too fat. Despite participating in various physical activities and excelling in fitness tests, she was constantly under threat of separation due to her muscular build. The tape test used to determine physical fitness at the time did not take into account body composition, considering only pure size. To meet the tape test requirements, the author resorted to extreme diets, spent money on various weight loss products, and even engaged in unhealthy practices such as using hemorrhoid cream and wrapping herself in plastic wrap. While she did lose weight, her overall health, academic performance, and emotional well-being suffered as a result. The weight standards in the military can be detrimental to individuals who may be physically fit and capable in other aspects of their duties. The author highlights the unfairness of being judged solely based on waist measurements without considering performance on fitness tests or job competency.
She experienced the pressure to conform to unrealistic standards of size in order to maintain her position. Eventually, the author resigned her commission due to the negative impact the weight standards had on her ability to perform her duties. She faced rejection when attempting to transfer to other branches of the military, further highlighting the discriminatory nature of the weight standards. The author shares her personal struggles with physical and mental health as a result of the focus on weight. She experienced muscle injuries, fatigue, eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. The fear of being seen eating "bad foods" and being marginalized due to her weight deeply affected her well-being and self-esteem. While the U.S.
Army has made changes to their body composition standards, allowing soldiers who score 80% or better on fitness tests to appeal their tape measurements, the author calls for further changes. She advocates for the abolition of body composition standards altogether and the closure of health stores on military bases that promote harmful products. Additionally, she believes that more investment should be made in providing healthy food options in mess halls. The author concludes by urging current soldiers to remember individuals like her who fought against the weight standards, emphasizing that change is possible and necessary for a fair and inclusive military culture.