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Morning Mix

A Canadian university removed a scale (the weighing kind) from its gym, outraging conservative media

By Travis M. Andrews

March 14, 2017 at 6:24 AM

After an onslaught of criticism on social media and from conservative media organizations, a Canadian university may reconsider the decision to remove a body-weight scale from its campus gym.

The outrage erupted after Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, replaced a scale in its gym with a sign asking exercisers to focus on health metrics other than weight.

"We don't believe being fixated on weight has any positive effect on your health and well-being," Bruce Marshall, manager of wellness programs at Carleton, told the campus newspaper, the Charlatan. "The body is an amazing machine and even when we are dieting and training it will often find a homeostasis at a certain weight."

Marshall told Canadian Broadcasting Corp. the decision was not based on complaints but was "in keeping with current fitness and social trends."

Little did the school know it would become a target of conservative media outlets. But that's exactly what happened.

Breitbart News ran a story on Monday bearing the headline, "Carleton University removes scales from campus gym to promote body acceptance." It was shared on Facebook almost 5,000 times.

A story on the conservative website the Daily Wire, which referred to the decision as "pathetic" in a piece shared more than 20,000 times on Facebook, stated, "Social Justice Warriors have placed their crosshairs on the ever-triggering scale, which makes perfect sense since scales inform us of objective facts and we all know how the Left feels about those."

"Clearly, the move to nix the scale was a way to shield snowflakes from a truth which makes them uncomfortable," it continued. "This is not how the real world works."

These outlets seemed to have latched onto a quote from first-year student Samar El Fakim, who told the Charlatan, "Scales are very triggering. I think people are being insensitive because they simply don't understand. They think eating disorders are a choice when they are actually a serious illness."

Naturally, social media outrage accompanied these stories.

"Obesity is far more of a problem than other eating disorders. Stop this ridiculous 'everything is triggering' s‑‑‑ #bringbackthescale," one user tweeted.

"One more proof that Lefties hate facts. Carleton University removed scale from gym because Liberals are triggered. What's next? Mirrors?" another user tweeted.

"The gym at Carleton University no longer has a scale because students complained that 'scales are very triggering,'" tweeted a third.

"So #Carleton gym removed the scale so that people won't be offended by the measurement it provides. Novel concept, don't step on the scale," tweeted yet another.

Marshall never mentioned "triggering" when explaining the university's rationale. Nor did he explain why the university came to its decision at this particular time.

"Although it can be used as a tool to help measure certain aspects of fitness, it does not provide a good overall indication of health and here at athletics we have chosen to move away from focusing solely on bodyweight," he told the CBC.

"If you need a number to focus on in regard to reaching certain fitness goals we suggest using girth measurements. You can start by recording measurements in multiple areas, for example your torso, hips, chest, legs and arms. You would then revisit these measurements after a few weeks to keep tabs on your progress."

Marshall told CBC, in response to the criticism the school has received, "We will weigh the pros and cons and may reconsider our decision."

On campus, meanwhile, the main issue seemed to be lack of student input.

"Certainly those groups who are affected by the scale being removed I would expect that they are being consulted on this decision and if they're not, that might have been an error on the part of the university," 21-year-old student Cameron Wales told CBC.

More from Morning Mix:

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Travis M. Andrews is a reporter for The Washington Post's Morning Mix. Previously he was an editor for Southern Living and a pop culture and tech contributor for Mashable.

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