WASHINGTON — Petty Officer 1st Class Kate O’Toole’s naval career hopes were dashed when the chief selection list came out last month, and her name was not on it.
“I just don’t get it,” O’Toole said. “I look great on paper: I aced the chief’s exam, I’ve deployed four times, I had letters of recommendation from two admirals, and I won the Marine Corps Marathon last year. Now what am I supposed to do?”
O’Toole’s rejection for promotion may be due in part to the fine print of the Navy enlisted promotion manual, which states, “All chiefs under six feet in height will weigh a minimum of 240 pounds; those over six feet will weight at least 260.”
Despite her stellar record and the availability of a body composition waiver, one member of the chief’s mess was not surprised. “Katie’s a great sailor, but she just doesn’t have the look of a chief, the gravitas, the girth. The sailors just wouldn’t respect her,” Master Chief Petty Officer Tom Onaka said.
When pressed to clarify his remarks, Onaka replied, “She’s just too thin and fit, okay? The chief’s mess has a long and hallowed history of being ‘large and in charge’ and leading by dictation, rather than by example. If we let Katie in, then people might actually expect all of us to fit in our summer whites and still be able to see our belt buckles.”
After a lengthy pause, during which he guzzled a Venti mocha frappachino with extra whipped cream, Onaka reflected, “Maybe if she put a little meat on her bones and stopped acting like a SEAL on steroids — ha ha, that’s redundant — we’d reconsider her.”