As of January 1, underweight models are prohibited from working in runway shows and appearing in print ads. Supporters hope the law will help reverse the growing problem of eating disorders among women and girls.
As of January 1, models who want to work in print ads and runway shows in Israel must provide potential employers with medical proof certifying that they have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 18.5. The new law is nicknamed “the Photoshop law” because of an additional regulation placed on advertisers requiring clear labeling on ads featuring digitally-altered images of models. Knesset member Rachel Adato, who helped champion the law, says, “A revolution has begun…this law shatters the anorexic ideal serving as an example for the country’s youth.” Activist Dana Weinberg says, “The very fact that the law was passed sends a significant message against extreme thinness.”
What’s the Big Idea?
The numbers of Israeli women and girls suffering from eating disorders now match those of industrialized Western countries, but the problem went largely unacknowledged until the 2007 death of a well-known Israeli model. With regards to images, the law only applies to domestic advertising companies, which may not be enough, says medical sociologist Sigal Gooldin: “[It’s a] small step if girls are still consuming the same popular images and influenced by their surroundings.” Critics in the industry say that focus should be placed more on overall health rather than weight.