It's not just celebrities that are pointing out how misleading BMIs can be (props to you, Pink). A student in Ohio decided to speak out after her friend received a letter from her school telling her she was overweight. In fact, Bailey Webber was so affected by what that letter did to her friend that she felt compelled to do more than just bring attention to BMI letters — she created a documentary that got picked up by Netflix.
Hello Giggles reports that Webber's friend, Maddy Karimi, got a letter sent home after her school tested students for their body mass indexes, or BMIs. In total, 21 states require schools to test students' BMIs, even though the measurement is controversial and isn't necessarily an indication of health. Of those 21 states, eight require schools to send letters home to let parents know that their kids have high BMIs — and many have dubbed these notices "Fat Letters."
When Webber looked into the letters, she realized that they weren't doing much good. Instead, they caused more undue stress to her friends. So, she did what we all say we'll do, but never actually end up doing: She called her congressman. Webber found out that Ohio Sen. Eric Kearney, her own representative, was one of the co-authors of the bill that required schools to send Fat Letters home. Eventually, Webber decided to turn her endeavor into a video project and enlisted the help of her dad, filmmaker Michael Webber. Together, they managed to get face time with Sen. Kearney, interview body-positivity activists and eating disorder experts, and even wrangle a White House press credential. The result is The Student Body, the Webbers' documentary on Fat Letters and the fallout that comes from them.
"The Student Body is fun and upbeat despite the heavy content. I want students to be able to feel inspired and to know that their voice does matter and that one person can make a change," Bailey told The Wright State Newsroom, the school newspaper where she's currently enrolled. "I learned that, and as you see in the film, I progressed."
Thanks to her work and the help of countless other activists, Ohio no longer tests students' BMIs, which means no more Fat Letters making their way to homes. You can follow Webber's journey, from that very first Fat Letter to the passing of new legislation, via The Student Body, now streaming on Netflix.