Israel Bans Super-thin Models in an Effort to Fight the Eating Disorders Anorexia and Bulimia
Israeli lawmakers have recently banned underweight models from appearing on ads, billboards or catwalks. The legislation is directed at preventing eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia—rampant among fashion models. The legislation’s sponsors hope the law will help promote having a healthy body image.
The new Israeli law firmly states that men and women can’t get modeling jobs unless their Body Mass Index (BMI) is 18.5 BMI is a ratio that expresses weight in kilograms divided by height in meters.
The new law was sponsored by Israeli lawmaker Rachel Adato in Kinesset. 2-4% of Israeli girls under the age of 18 suffer from a severe eating disorder. Adato hopes that this law will work to increase eating disorders’ prevalence.
“We believe that by this bill, there will be a new way to protect the kids and a new way to look at what is beautiful,” Said Rachel Adato, adding that “Beautiful shouldn’t be anorexia. Anorexia is a very, very dangerous disease and that’s the reason, that’s the justification why we need this legislation.”
The legislation also requires that all ads published in Israel need to disclose if they used photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop in order to digitally “enhance”—more like reduce—a model’s appearance.
The Israeli law was also endorsed by modeling agent and photographer Adi Barkan. Barkan cited that in the past 20 years, the average model has dropped two whole sizes. Barkan hopes that other nations will follow suit.
“I think we’re going to make history. I hope that the other countries in Europe and the United States [are] going to do it together after us because they know it’s real, really life-saving.”
It’s unclear now, whether legislation can make an impact on the view held by much of the world that skinny equates with beautiful. For the global perception of beauty to change, it might take a mass effort on the part of the media. Designers should be creating larger sample sizes for their garments. Advertisers should steer clear of unnecessary photo doctoring. Agencies should stop employing models who are dangerously underweight.
In the United States, the image of dangerously underweight models is quite out-of-step with the obesity epidemic that is plaguing the nation—38% of all US citizens are obese. Hopefully if the media could portray a standard of beauty that is both attainable and healthy, it could help prevent obesity and eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.
Hopefully Israel’s bold new law will inspire other countries to similarly restrict underweight models from appearing on the runway or in print advertisements. Perhaps then the global standard of beauty can shift to embrace women who are fit and adhere to proper nutrition rather than engaging in behavior that is harmful.
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