Military Liposuction on the Rise to Beat Fitness Tests

Photo: Stacy Pearsall/Corbis

Just as it goes for models, waist size matters for America's bodies. The Christian Science Monitor reports that some military personnel are resorting to liposuction to battle an inaccurate test of fitness. Those who fail the test must join the "pork chop platoon" or "doughnut brigade," which, contrary to those delicious-sounding names, is actually an intense exercise and nutrition program.

The military uses the archaic sounding "tape test," which takes neck-to-waist ratio measurements that are used to pass or flunk soldiers. Critics say that the "tape test" doesn't take into account those who are not flabbier, but have more muscular physiques. Although, isn't it an indication that your fitness test is a little prohibitive, if your troop members are dashing in for a quick nip and tuck?

"I've actually had commanders recommend it to their troops," [one plastic surgeon] said. "They'll deny that if you ask them. But they know some people are in really good shape and unfortunately are just built wrong."

The military does not condone surgically altering one's body to pass the test, but liposuction is not banned.

Military officials defend the test, citing its cost-effectiveness "with a margin of error of less than 1 percent." But the solutions proposed by "tape test" detractors sound equally thrifty, such as fat-grabbing calipers and using BMI (a number in and of itself that has detractors). Doesn't everyone have a calculator app on their iPhone? And calipers appear to only cost $6.34 on Amazon.

Much of the debate sounds alarmingly like the controversy over model healthiness. What does it say about our nation's body issues if we have some of our fittest men and women using plastic surgery to comply with an arbitrary measure of physicality?

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