You can't compare an average woman's weight to an Olympic athlete's

February 24, 2010

Yes, women do need more healthy role models for body image, but why should we even be comparing the scale numbers anyway ("Real athletes, real bodies," Feb. 21)? What good does it do to know an athlete's weight, when clearly that weight is significantly increased by hard-earned lean muscle, not by the higher body fat percentages that raise the average American woman's weight?

A pound and a pound are not always equal. To say that an Olympic athlete, who is the epitome of strength and health, weighs the same as the average American female (who is most likely shorter, much less muscular, and by far less active) is like comparing apples to cheeseburgers. Should the average woman stepping onto her bathroom scale and seeing 165 or 180 pounds pat herself on the back and be pleased that her weight is in line with that of a world-class athlete? How is the perceived "heft" of these women supposed to translate to better body image for non-athletes?

Gawking at the body stats of these remarkable Olympic athletes trivializes their sporting accomplishments. It is far more helpful for real women to seek inspiration in the athletes' fitness and go out and lead healthier lives, rather than to seek comfort and validation in the notion that their bathroom scale numbers already happen to be similar.

Courtney McGee, Towson

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