Indiana teen gets national attention for refusing to calculate her BMI for a school assignment

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 7, 2016)-- An Indiana teen's decision to take a stand against a widely used fitness test has gone viral. The homework assignment has brought national attention to health and body image.

Tessa Embry of Evansville was asked to calculate her body mass index using her height and weight for a physical education assignment. The Indiana softball player decided it was time to go to bat for herself after a previous assignment put her in the obese category for her BMI.

"I've always been bigger and it just kind of upset me whenever the word said obese on the computer screen and I've been to doctors and I realize I'm not obese but it just still kind of hurt," Embry said.

Shortly after that, the 14-year-old was asked to calculate her BMI again for a different assignment. This time she refused. Instead, she wrote a two-page essay detailing why BMI is an outdated way to categorize how healthy you are.

"I responded in this way because I just wanted to get the point of view from other girls and other boys in gym classes that were probably feeling the same way I did," Embry said.

"I totally support that. BMI is not the best measurement to measure health. So somebody that's an athlete they're always going to be considered obese or overweight," said Kyle McIlrath, Wellness Manager at Community Healthplex.

The Community Healthplex uses the Seca Medical Body Composition machine to assess ones health from the inside out with a 17-second scan.

"This test here is geared toward your body type. It gives you your body fat percentage. It will break down your muscle tissue in each region. Right arm, left arm and it also gives you your hydration levels," McIlrath said.

Embry says she never anticipated a national response but she's glad her message was heard.

"No one should let a number define you necessarily because it's honestly just a number on a scale a doctor will tell you if there is something seriously wrong and if they haven't they just really shouldn't worry about those numbers."

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