After hinting for months that it might adjust the height and weight requirements for women, the Marine Corps finally made the change official over Fourth of July weekend. According to the Washington Post, female Marines will be allowed to weigh five to seven pounds more for each inch of their height — so, a five-foot-six woman can now weigh 161 pounds instead of 155 pounds at maximum, and a woman who’s five foot nine can weigh 176 pounds instead of 169.
The new guidelines come in response to changing roles for women in the military: As of December, all combat roles are officially open to women. Understandably, women seeking to fill those roles tend to work out harder. Commander General Robert Neller said female Marines are more likely than ever to lift weights in order to build muscle mass, but doing so would make them heavier than the military allowed.
“Being big, strong, having a certain body mass, gives you an advantage,” he said. “One of the things I’ve heard as I’ve gone around and talked to female Marines is, ‘Hey, I’m out working out. I’m lifting weights. I’m getting bigger. And now I’m outside the height-and-weight standards. Are you going to change the height-and-weight standards?’”
The Marines will reportedly ease up on body-fat requirements, too, as long as the candidate in question passes the fitness test. Neller said his office would monitor the effects of the changes for two years and adjust the standards again if required.