Get Rid of the BMI
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The requirements for passing the 9th grade Physical Fitness Test need to be changed. The Body Composition portion should be removed entirely because the Body Mass Index, or BMI test is unfair, racist, fatphobic, and inaccurate. Although the composition tests are used to help students become healthy and not obese, it is not a healthy practice to pass or fail students based on their weight.
Every single student who goes through the public school system is familiar with the Physical Fitness Test. It tests our upper body strength, our aerobic capacity, and a variety of other athletic skills. It also tests our BMI. However, the BMI test is unfair. For students with a high muscle mass, it sometimes classifies them as overweight when they’re at a perfectly healthy weight, and for overweight students, they’ll be forced to run the mile faster in order to pass, which is often not a possible feat for those students. Thus, they fail PE class and have to take it the next year, taking up an academic slot that could have gone to a STEM class they were passionate about, or a language class that would connect them to their ancestry, or just any class they needed to graduate. Having your weight decide how likely it is you’ll pass the PFT is a toxic practice that promotes fatphobia.
The BMI test can create a feeling of insecurity and ostracism among young girls and boys. The media we consume tells us to have an ideal body, a glossy magazine cover will tell us “20 ways to get your hot summer body” and “Secrets of how to lose weight fast in a week”. Kids grow up learning that the body they have is too big or too much and they need to look like the people they see on posters. Our own president, the person representing our country that kids will grow up looking to as an authority, is calling people out for gaining weight publicly and using dehumanizing representations to describe them. He went so far as to call a previous Ms. Universe “Miss Piggy” after she gained weight when she was done with her pageant life. The last thing young people need is for the media representation of bodies to be brought into the school environment. Imagine literally failing your body test: it would make you feel like you body is a failure and your body is not beautiful, and like it’s your fault and you need to fix it. The BMI test calls students out in class for their flaws rather than focusing on how to live a healthy lifestyle. I know personally how self conscious and body image obsessed teens can be, and having a test that measures your body in school causes even more comparison between peers, and society's unrealistic expectations. By having the BMI test in school we are perpetuating self confidence issues and negativity to accepting all body types. The BMI test does not belong in school.
The Physical Fitness Test creates a dynamic where one test decides if you’re unhealthy or not. This creates a dynamic they are worried about passing the PFT, even worse issues could then begin to occur such as students becoming bulimic or not eating. Other students who are under the HFZ could also possibly overeat fatty foods and become unhealthy because they are trying to gain weight to pass the PFT. Lastly, these rules could cause students to give up on trying to pass the PFT at the end of the year because they don’t think they have any possibility of passing. These students will then not try as hard in PE, therefore not doing enough physical exercise and becoming unhealthy or unhealthier than they were before.
This puts stress on the students that aren’t in the HFZ (healthy fitness zone) because they are forced to take PE for another year if they don’t pass. If they want to pass, they need to pass all of the other PFT requirements, which is a pretty difficult thing to do. For the kids who are in the healthy fitness zone, they can fail one of the other physical activities and still pass. Once again, I have talked to people who do a sport most of the days of the week, and they are either over the HFZ or under the HFZ. On the other hand, there are students like me who are in the HFZ and do little to no physical activities per week. With this change to the system, these students in the HFZ would not be able to use that as one of their 4 passed requirements.
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