Israeli lawmakers have banned underweight models from catwalks and commercials, a measure they hope will reduce eating disorders and promote a healthy body image.
The law, passed late on Monday, says women and men cannot be hired for modeling jobs unless a doctor stipulates 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.
The law also bans the use of a person who “appears underweight” and says advertisers must explicitly state if graphic manipulation was done to make a model look thinner in a photo.
Rachel Adato, one of the lawmakers who pushed the bill, said ahead of the vote she hoped the law would protect youth from pursuing unattainable ideals of beauty. “Beautiful is not underweight, beautiful should not be anorexic,” she said.
The fashion industry’s use of wafer-thin models on runways and in magazines has for years sparked heated debate. Critics say the practice promotes an unhealthy body image among women, which contributes to anorexia and other eating disorders.
Designers and agencies have often been criticized for putting relentless pressure on their models to stay unhealthily thin. After two anorexic Latin American models died in 2006, countries including Italy and India banned underweight models from the catwalk.
This move reeks of pretentiousness and is in the same vein of California law which bans sex in pornography without the explicit use of condoms.
Most industries have regulations that aren’t enforced for one reason or the other, so this is another piece of legislation that will make people feel good about themselves but amounts to putting a band-aid on a cut that requires stitches. All this will do is eventually shift production to place where local laws are relaxed.
While eating disorders are a major problem, which need special attention, allowing bureaucrats to play psychiatrist sets an ugly precedent for government encroachment into one’s freedom of choice. One only has to look at the counterproductive nature of America’s “War on Drugs” to observe how the rode to hell is paved with good intentions.
Additionally, the female body is being served up on a platter for citizens by lawmakers who want or rather need to look moralistic and concerned for the safety of children during an flammable election season in Israel.
Anorexia, bulimia, bigorexia, pica, and purging are all naughty words for glamorous girls even though men suffer from body image issues as well. Yet there is no ban bodybuilding or any mention to slender men.
Do you think uber-skinny models should be banned legally?