After hearing several stories about the Wii being designed to make people feel bad about themselves, I decided to try it for myself.
I started by creating my Mii (my avatar, it’s like playing paperdolls with WAY too many options). Much time was taken on what type of eyebrows were most representative of me, and whether or not I wanted to wear sunglasses. I tried to accurately represent my body type but, like so many misguided clothing designers, the Wii assumes that the shorter you are the thinner you must be, so I wasn’t able to get an accurate representation of my figure. Disappointed by undaunted I moved on.
My Mii created, I started Wii’s assessment process. It asked me for my height, the weight of my clothes, and my birthday. It didn’t ask anything about bone structure, build, or workout habits.
In the “things I wish someone had told me category”, when you step on the balance board it makes a surprised “Oh!” sound. Apparently it does that for people of any weight, but it could be a bit off-putting.
Then the fun really began. It gave me a little lecture about posture, then looked at how good my posture is (almost perfectly as it turns out).
Then it weighed me in. My Mii started to expand – ah, I thought, that looks much more like me. I was quite pleased.
But then the bad thing happened. It played some music that was as ominous as simple digitized notes can be, and my Mii began to look very sad and concerned. So now my body was right, but my happy chipper disposition was gone. I looked depressed and worried. That’s not like me.
My Body Mass Index (a calculation of weight and height – more about this later) popped up on the screen along with a scale of underweight to obese. My marker shot up to the top of the obese category and a chipper voice said “That’s Obese!”
Then it told me that my real age was 45 (at which point my Mii bent over and held her back in pain) and that my BMI told it that my body was weaker than it should be. Having just leg-pressed about a thousand pounds a few days before, I was curious what the Mii thought I should be able to lift. Plus I don’t have any back pain and I wanted to ask it why it thought I (and apparently 45 year old women everywhere) did. Unfortunately it doesn’t really respond to questions.
Now the kicker. It told me that a healthy weight for me might be 119.5lbs. Many of you know that during college I developed a little issue with not eating and working out all the time. I went to the hospital briefly and was diagnosed as an EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified). I weighed 135lbs. So I’m going to disagree with the Mii about my goal weight.
Once we got through that and played the actual games, they were fun and some of them were a at least a bit of a workout. I had high hopes for the Wii because I’m a big advocate of people having fun ways to add movement to their lives if they choose. My conclusion is that it would be fun if it didn’t come with all that shame piled on top. I haven’t tested this but I’ve been told that if you don’t weigh in it constantly bugs you about it.
It’s not just big people either, a friend of mine told me that her son is underweight due to kidney problems and his Mii looks small and wimpy and makes him feel bad.
Here’s where Wii need to apply just a little bit of common sense.
First, BMI was meant to be used over extremely broad, statistically significant sample sizes. It was not meant to be used on an individual basis due to it’s propensity for being grossly inaccurate in those cases. Take me, for example. I’m a healthy athlete but according to my BMI (which falls into Category 3: Super Obese – which is as fat as you can get on the BMI chart), I should be pretty much be dead right no
You cannot tell someone’s health based on their height and weight. You just can’t. Wii need to stop being so lazy.
Even if my BMI was correct, representing me as fat and depressed, and telling me that my body is weak and old is pretty much the crappiest motivation technique ever.
If you want to get healthier, I would suggest that the first step is to start appreciating the health that you have now – whatever that is. If you’re reading this, you’re probably breathing so start there. You don’t even ask it to, yet there your body is, breathing in and out just when you need it to. Your eyes are probably blinking – there’s your body again, supporting your ability to see through healthy eyes. Start appreciating the little things. Can you walk or wheel yourself across the room? Pat yourself on the back, thank your body for that. Stop focusing on the things that you have been taught aren’t good enough, or pretty enough or whatever enough. Refuse to buy into a culture of body hate. Love yourself, then make choices. If you haven’t already, find foods that you and your body both like, find ways to move that make you and your body health. Start loving your body right now and you’ll be healthier, mentally and physically, right now.