“Strike” a Pose: Super-thin Supermodels Banned In Israel
As of the first of the year, any model with a body-mass index lower than 18.5 is legally banned from appearing in Israeli media, online or walking catwalks at any fashion show in the Holy Land. This law is the first of its kind internationally, and was put into motion with the hope that other countries would follow the “trend”. In Israel alone, the Jerusalem Post reports, 1,500 teens and young adults develop eating disorders such as Anorexia and Bulimia, while at least 30 cases die from eating-disorder related complications every year (these numbers, are only a fraction of the number of eating disorder cases and related deaths in the U.S. and U.K.). The problem has become so pervasive that it has even reached the Ultra-Orthodox world, where potential brides are starving themselves to meet Haredi men’s increasing demand for model-sized women.
Specialists around the world agree that the issue is linked to the unrealistic models of beauty portrayed in print and visual media. Kadima MK Rachel Adatto, who was one of the Knesset members to initiate the law in hopes of protecting the welfare of teenagers who are inundated with these (often digitally manipulated) images of “skinny models who look as if they eat a biscuit a day and then serve as a model for our children”.
One of the law’s most vocal proponents is Adi Barkan, a long-time fashion photographer and staple of the fashion scene who has been burned by the system and is now a major player in the Israel Center for the Change in Eating Habits. She told the press: “We are all affected. We wear black, do [drastic] diets and are obsessive about our looks. The time has come for the end of the era of skeletons on billboards and sickly thinness all over. The time has come to think about ourselves and our children and take responsibility for what we show them. Too thin is not sexy.”
The legal implications for those who violate the law are severe. Producers and designers of ads, fashion shows, websites or television programs or ads who use models or presenters with a BMI that falls below the limit are liable to face heavy fines as well as lawsuits by private citizens, including families with loved ones who have suffered with, or died from, an eating disorder. Further, even if an image has been digitally “adjusted” to make the model look like she has a lower BMI than 18.5, a prominent warning taking up at least 7% of the ad space must be placed on the image. While the media venues such as magazines or television stations that put these images on print or air will not be held responsible, they do so at risk to their reputations and future business.
When the law officially passed yesterday, a celebratory Adatto told the press that the “revolution against the anorexic model of beauty begins”.
About the Author: Rea Bochner is a professional writer who has written for dozens of web and print publications, including Chabad.org and Aish.com. When not crafting copy on her laptop, Rea is a full-time mother, laundrywoman, chef, chauffeur, art director, housekeeper and referee. She lives in Cherry Hill, NJ with her husband and two sons. See more of Rea's work by visiting www.writtenbyrea.com