Monday, September 20, 2010

The Dreaded Husky Section

A law recently passed in Ohio requires schools to determine a student's BMI (Body Mass Index) in the 3rd, 5th, and 9th grades. This is one requirement of the law entitled Ohio's Healthy Choices for Healthy Childen Act. I became aware of it because the local school district where I live is attempting to opt out of this BMI screening which determines whether a person is underweight, healthy, overweight, or obese. If you don't know your own BMI, a number of online programs are available which will tell you what you have probably already determined from looking in the mirror. It just provides a sobering number that will likely depress you.

This new law brought back memories of the public humiliations I endured as a grade school student. Every fall and every spring, all of the children would be herded together in the gym to have their weight and height measured, called out (not whispered) to a person who would be recording it, and then later written down in our report cards. My class had not been introduced to the concept of the Bell Curve, but every kid would have immediately understood it. You see the goal of every boy or girl in my class was to fall in the great middle section of weight or height. No one wanted to be at the ends because the tallest and the shortest, the heaviest and the thinnest, were mocked by the merely average kids. I remember a girl named Kim G. running out of the room crying as she was jeered for being tall. She looked like a model - tall and thin with long dark hair. Kim was taller than anyone else at least for awhile, but I always competed for the crown of fattest and tallest boy. I knew I was fat even without a BMI screening, but apparently the other kids in my class had no idea I was fat until my startling weight numbers were read aloud twice a year. Thank God for Dave T., a gentle giant of a kid who came to our class near the end of our grade school years. Dave was a great guy (and still is), and he will always have a special place in my heart. Dave was a chunk bigger than anyone else and easily claimed the #1 spot on that Bell Curve. There was no silver medal (or attention) for being the 2nd fattest or 2nd tallest kid, and I was able to step into Dave's shadow.

Concepts like self-esteem had not been invented in my childhood, but now and again a few euphemisms were used for fat. When my mother took us back to school shopping in the fall, we always entered the boy's section with hope, but after scrutiny by the female clerks which sometimes involved a tape measure we were almost always sent off to the dreaded Husky Section. You see, "Husky" was not a breed of dog, but it meant "You are too fat for the normal section, kid." There might have been a simple minded child who said, "I'm not fat, I'm Husky," but most of us knew who we were. In the Husky Section, a clerk would throw a tarp over you, cut out a place for your head to poke through, and then give you a piece of rope to use as a belt. It was a simple look that worked whether you lost weight or became more Husky (which meant obese).

I don't know if stores still have Husky Sections. These days they might be called the normal section. With huskiness on the rise in our grade schools, I probably would not be a contender for fattest kid in the class anymore.
I would love to say that since leaving the Husky Section in middle school that I have never gone back, but it wouldn't be true. Like a lot of you, I have had challenges with weight (translation: I have been overweight and obese). If you are battling with your weight, don't give up. There is always hope - over the past year I have reduced my weight and am now at what the BMI measurement would call "normal" or "healthy." Will I stay there? I would like to say "yes." I hope the answer is "yes." But weight that has been lost has a way of finding its way back home, doesn't it? Even if you think you have left it in the dreaded Husky Section.

1 comment:

  1. THAT IS SOOOOO STUPID!!!! If they knew anything about BMI they would know how inaccurate it can be especially when you take into consideration maturing boys and girls that are growing and developing at all different rates. A much better indicator would be to use body fat %. This can be done very easily with calibers and is very inexpensive. See this is why people need to be better educated about health and fitness.