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The Chiz and Grace show

We don’t know about you, but we found our attention drifting about five minutes into the speech of Senator Grace Poe when she declared (should we act surprised here?) her intention to run for president in May 2016 at the UP Bahay ng Alumni last Wednesday. Our partners in the art of imbibing were not ready this early to hear her government platform and just wanted to be electrified by her—no such luck though.

Now Chiz Escudero, on the other hand, is something else because even over the radio (we didn’t make it to Club Filipino—traffic, you know), the guy had the ability to make you believe and even want to applaud what he was saying. He’s found a good narrative—telling everyone he was content with his lot as senator, being newly married and all, but got challenged when some people looked down their noses on him and said how dare he dream lofty dreams when he is just an Escudero—and his family name is not among these considered illustrious in this country?

Popcorn mode now, people. Senators Grace and Chiz seem to have gotten an early lead because they have a complete tandem. As for the others, let’s put it this way: The bridegroom is waiting, but no bride in sight yet.

Airline fat shames FAs

Grounded. That’s what Air India did to some 130 flight attendants who reportedly exceeded a body mass index of 22. For potato couches like us who have never set foot in a gym in the last decade, BMI means your weight in kilos divided by the square of your height in meters (or if you prefer, use pounds and feet as measurements instead). For instance, if you are an adult with a height of five feet and two inches, weighing 130 pounds, then your BMI is 23.8 which is still considered normal for someone your height.

According to reports, Air India issued a warning to 600 of its 3,500 flight attendants that they had to cut down on weight, deciding that they were “temporarily unfit” for flight duties. Most of the flight attendants who have been taken off flight duty and grounded are female, so Air India has been flooded with criticism for being ridiculous, sexist and discriminatory.

This weight issue is apparently not new given Air India’s history of getting embroiled in cases involving FAs who are deemed heftier than the airline’s standards. In 2006, six female flight crew members were grounded for being exceptionally overweight, which triggered disgust because weight has nothing to do with one’s ability to perform emergency duties should they be required.  In 2013, India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation required flight attendants to subject themselves to routine BMI evaluations, but the FAs bucked, demanding that their gym expenses should be paid by the airlines.

This time however, Air India ups the ante in the fat shaming game by saying excess weight can pose security risks. (In short, the carrier has equated its crew to luggage that must have weight limits.) Saying they have given fair and enough warning, a spokesperson from the airline said they decided to ground those who failed the “reassessment,” adding that “people who are fitter can respond quicker and more efficiently in case of any untoward situation.” That’s a very faulty generalization if you ask us—we know a lot of heavy people who can move quicker and are more agile (especially on the dance floor) than their skinnier counterparts.

Health experts have also weighed in on the issue, questioning the BMI range that Air India has set, insisting that normal and healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9—not between 18 and 22 (for females). Besides, the BMI should not be the only basis for determining one’s health and fitness. Some of the grounded FAs complained about being taken off flight duties even if they were just 20 grams “overweight.”  (As if that would make the plane tilt over to one side and pose a flight risk.”

Last month, a local Chinese airline, Qingdao, also dropped a flight attendant from the crew because of weight issues. The same alibi was also used: the airline was concerned that exceeding weight standards might compromise the ability of the crew to respond during emergency situations, adding that they want the crew to be “in good body shape.” So there you have it – it’s not so much about safety but about the way the FA’s body looks, hence, the fat shaming.

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