The Israeli parliament has passed a new law which prohibits clinically underweight models from appearing in advertisements and catwalks. Lawmakers believe the presence of super-skinny models in the media and fashion parades encourages eating disorders and promotes unrealistic and unhealthy body image goals.

In this new legislation, a model of either sex must have a BMI (body mass index) of at least 18.5 in order to be able to work. Proof will also need to be shown that a doctor does not find that that person is underweight.

Even healthy-weight models who appear underweight are no longer allowed to be shown. Any artificial enhancements of images to make the person look thinner must be clearly stated (on the image).

Dr Rachel Adato-Levy, a gynecologist and lawyer, who is also a member of the Knesset (Israeli parliament) for Kadima, said yesterday before the Bill was approved and became an Act that the new legislation should help protect young people from unrealistic beauty goals.

Adato said:

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

There has been growing concern throughout the world that the use of pencil-thin models in catwalks, magazines and adverts might have an impact on the ever-growing rates of eating disorders, especially among young females. The vast majority of people with eating disorders are female.

Models often complain about having to stay very thing if they want the best contracts. Agencies and designers have been accused of encouraging their models to remain below what are medically considered healthy body weights.

Underweight models have already been banned from appearing in ads and catwalks in India and Italy.

Liad Gil-Har, assistant to Dr. Adato, said:

“We want to break the illusion that the model
we see is real.”

According to anthropologist and eating disorders specialist, Sigal Gooldin, approximately 2% of all females aged from 14 to 18 years suffer from a severe eating disorder. This rate is similar to prevalences seen in other developed nations.

From now on, models working in Israel will have to produce a doctor’s report which states they are not underweight and/or malnourished – the report must be no more than three months old.

Foreign publications which are sold in Israel will not be subject to the new legislation.

Eliana Ramos was a fashion model from Uruguay. She was found dead at her grandparents home in Montevideo, aged 18 years. According to preliminary examinations, she died of a heart attack, most likely brought on by malnutrition. Other models who died as a result of a severe eating disorder include: Ana Carolina Reston (Brazil), Luisel Ramos (Uruguay), and Hila Elmalich (Israel).

Written by Christian Nordqvist