In what is being hailed as a precedent around the world, the Knesset has passed a law banning the use of underweight models in advertising.
The fashion industry’s use of underweight models has been a controversy for years. Some countries have disqualified too skinny models from appearing on the catwalks. But Israel’s new legislation is the first time a government has made it illegal to show half-starved models in commercials.
In Israel, about two percent of all young women between 14 and 18 have severe eating disorders – and lawmakers are hoping the new legislation will help reduce eating disorders.
The new law says women and men cannot be hired for modeling jobs unless a doctor says they are not underweight, with a body mass index (BMI) — a measure expressing a ratio of weight to height — of no less than 18.5.
Even more, the new legislation is being dubbed the “Photoshop Law” – requiring advertising agencies to say whether they’ve digitally altered pictures to make models look thinner.
The two main people to push for the new legislation are Model Agent/Fashion Photographer Adi Barkan and Israeli lawmaker Dr. Rachel Adato. The veteran Barkan told ISRAEL21c that after watching a model friend die because of malnutrition he set out to change the business.