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Does Fat Spouse = Fat Servicemember?

Is there a connection between a servicemember not meeting military height and weight standards — or, in official Army talk, being “over fat,” — and having an overweight spouse?

In the civilian model, one’s weight usually doesn’t have anything to do with their spouse’s chosen career. But does that — or should it — pertain to military spouses?

Some MilSpouses contend that not exercising and being out-of-shape has little to do with their spouse’s job. They say there’s no connection with their soldier making height and weight and what they (as spouses) do or don’t do at home.

“His leaving at 4:30 a.m. to make PT is his job, not mine,” one spouse told me. “I don’t represent the military. I have the kids to care for and a household to run, and I’m too tired at the end of the day to work out.”

She said her weight, the type of meals they eat at home, and their activity level, “had nothing to do with military, much less him making tape.

But others disagree and think that the military should influence home life. Being an overweight spouse, they say, inadvertently affects the soldier.

One active-duty soldier explains, “Spouses are looked at just as closely as those in uniform …” he wrote on a Yahoo chat wall. “They should take pride in being a representative of the military family and stay in shape.”

Another male reader wrote that there’s a “fat wife syndrome in the military.” Yet another said,Military men and women work extremely hard nearly daily [sic] to keep in shape. … They have to make time to work out … . If they can make time why can’t their spouses?”

A female soldier chimed in. “My husband and I are (both military),” she said. “For goodness sakes [sic], half of these battle-cruiser-fat-dependent-wives don’t work. … They can at least go to the gym instead of eating (bonbons) all day.”

However, many more argue that spouses aren’t the ones who chose to enlist. One active-duty soldier wrote on the Yahoo wall that, “it’s no one else’s business.”

“Trust me, (these) wives are aware of how they look and they don’t need (anyone) telling them,” she said. “(Many) have never walked a mile in (their shoes) and don’t have a clue what they go through. … And no, it is not a spouse’s job to look fit for her husband. She is not a representative of MY U.S. Army. I am. Because I am (the) soldier.”

So, what’s really at stake here?

Sure, a milspouse’s health-habits affect the family, but is it really about her representing the military, helping him making tape, or the military’s perceived influence?

Staying healthy to enjoy a better quality of life and taking pride in and being responsible for your own wellbeing — that is what’s important—it have nothing to do with anything else. It’s about you.

This is what matters: caring for you, being healthy for yourself, for each other, and for those who care about and love you. It’s about making health a family thing and setting an example for your offspring. It’s about reaping health benefits in all aspects of your lives.

It’s about being connected. And if working out together maintains that bond, great. Little things staying healthy shows that you have your soldier’s back, that you have each other’s back.

It’s about support, consideration, encouragement.

According to one Yahoo responder, all this “talk” about whether or not spouses’ weight matters is a distraction and jeopardizes much more.

“As an Army, we are only as strong as we are united,” he wrote, “and (this) behavior, and most likely (these) attitudes towards military spouses will divide them from (their) soldier, and in turn, the U.S. Army.”

Does he have a point or do you totally disagree? What’s your take on issue?

About Corinne Lincoln-Pinheiro

Corinne Lincoln-Pinheiro is a journalist by trade, a blogger, creative writing instructor and business owner. She has a Bachelor's in English and a Master's in Writing. She's written for various newspapers including Joint Base Lewis-McChord's The Ranger, the Airlifter, The Pacific Northwest Veterans, and two online magazines -- JBLM Spouses and JBLM Singles. Corinne writes for the Killeen Daily Herald newspaper (http://kdhnews.com/blogs/health_springs/), and her military blog (http://www.rankandfile.blog.com) profiles interviews, articles and editorials on issues surrounding military life. Her family is currently stationed at Fort Hood, TX.

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