Moral Low Ground


New Israeli Law Bans Underweight Models

A new Israeli law bans the use of underweight fashion models in advertisements and on catwalks, a measure that lawmakers hope will reduce eating disorders and promote a healthier body image.

Reuters reports that women and men cannot be hired for modeling jobs without a doctor’s approval. Under the new law, models must have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 18.5 to qualify.


Also banned are models who “appear underweight,” a nebulous stipulation that will surely stoke fierce debate. Advertisers must also disclose when “graphic manipulation,” such as photoshop, is used to make models look skinnier in photos.

Lawmaker Rachel Adato, who supports the measure, told Reuters she hoped the law would protect young people from  aspiring to an unhealthy body size.

“Beautiful is not underweight, beautiful should not be anorexic,” she said.

Many proponents of such laws, which have been enacted in India and Italy in the wake of the multiple deaths of anorexic models, say the use of super-skinny models promotes an unhealthy body image among women and girls. This, they argue, has contributed to the soaring rates of eating disorders such as anorexia.

“I look (back) 15 to 20 years ago, we shot models (sized) 38,” Israeli fashion photographer Adi Barkan told Reuters. “Today, it’s (size) 24. This is the difference between thin and too thin. This is the difference between death and life.”


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