Hey Sailor! Watch Your Weight

Thousands of sailors wearing their summer dress whites hit the streets of New York City today, the start of Fleet Week. You’d think I’d be over the uniform by now, having worked as a cocktail waitress in the enlisted man’s club back in the day when the Navy was in Newport, Rhode Island. But, no, I’m still captivated by that costume, unchanged since the late 1800s. It is a uniform is build on tradition: bell bottom trousers are easy to roll for deck work, the neckerchief functions as a sweat band, the jumper’s collar keeps tar spots off the shirt, and the indestructible “Dixie Cup” hat is comfortable and easy to make and clean.

The Future of the Fleet

Here’s hoping our shores stay safe because we don’t have the men to defend them. Of all military applicants, 25 percent are declared unfit to serve and rejected because they are overweight or obese. CDC data shows, in 1960, the average American man was 5’8” tall and weighed 166 pounds; by 2004, he was 5’9” tall and weighed-in at 191. The military only accepts candidates who fall into a specific height and weight range. A fighting man’s height is between 5’0” to 6’6” and the Navy’s maximum allowable weight is around BMI 25.5, which translates to 174 pounds at 5’9.” If an applicant exceeds the weight on the chart, then his body fat is measured and the goal is 23 percent or less, a realistic number. I’m not worried because those young guys can get fit fast when they try, and in a Star Wars defense system, unfit sailors can sit at computers. But what about those cute sailor suits? They won’t look nearly so fine.

Your thoughts: Is weight threatening national defense? How ’bout that sailor suit?