New Israeli law bans use of too-skinny models in ads
Israel has passed a new law banning the use of underweight models in advertising.
March 20th, 2012
11:50 AM ET

New Israeli law bans use of too-skinny models in ads

Israel has passed a law banning the use of underweight models in advertising. The legislation, known as the "Photoshop Law," also requires that agencies tell their audience if they've digitally altered pictures to make models look thinner.

"This is such a happy day for me, and it should be for everyone in the modeling business," said Israeli modeling agency owner Adi Barkan, who has been working in fashion for more than 30 years. He said he lobbied Knesset members for years to get a law like this passed.

"All over the world, 20 years ago, we saw girls who were skinny, but today we see girls who are too, too skinny," he said. "They are dying. The business only wants the skinny girls. So the girls, they stop eating. It's terrible. We must be more responsible and say to them that it doesn't have to be that way."

The new law prohibits the use of models with a body mass index of 18.5 or less, a designation based on internationally accepted measures. The figure matches parameters set by the U.S. Department of Health.

The law has no criminal consequences, said Liad Gil-Har, a Knesset spokesman. It could be enforced only through civil litigation. He offered an example by saying that the law would make it possible for parents of a 15-year-old girl suffering from anorexia to sue the makers of an advertisement if they believed their daughter was being influenced by an ad featuring an underweight model.

The law doesn't set a money amount that can be gained in court from such a suit, Gil-Har said. Lawmakers realize that it may be a long and difficult process to prove in court that a company violated the new law, but they feel that simply having the law in place will accomplish what they want: deterring advertising companies from continuing to influence Israelis with images of unhealthy-looking models as the gold standard of beauty, he said.

Gil-Har said lawmakers have spent years deciding what action to take to curb an alarming number of Israelis suffering from eating disorders. The Knesset's Research and Information Center told lawmakers that there are about 1,500 children, including teens, diagnosed with eating disorders in Israel annually. Knesset members relied on data presented to them that linked eating disorders to exposure to media images that glorify thinness.

"We think this will be enough, that no advertising company will want to violate this law," Gil-Har said. "They just won't want to take that risk."

Some modeling agencies in Israel aren't happy.

"The indexes on which the law is based are arbitrary and are not appropriate for every model. I know many models who are totally healthy girls who might be disqualified because of the law," said Eli Edri of the Roberto Models Agency in Tel Aviv, according to Haaretz. He told the newspaper that some models are naturally thin and unable to gain weight and that the new law would unfairly prevent them from getting booked for jobs.

Plus-size American supermodel Emme told CNN that she thinks the law will spur other countries to institute similar measures against showing underweight models. "I think this is fantastic because so many young women and men are suffering to look a way that is unrealistic and unhealthy," she said.

The United Kingdom, she said, has aggressively pursued advertising agencies that alter images to an extent that grossly misrepresents the photo's subject. Advertisements for Lancome featuring Julia Roberts were banned in Britain because they were overly airbrushed.

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Filed under: Israel
soundoff (120 Responses)
  1. Andreas Moser

    I prefer curvy girls.

    March 20, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. BalesandWallstreet

    BALE OUTS > OFFICER qualifications > YEAR 2000 :))

    Posted By Not Available on 03/20/2012 @ 09:01 am
    FINANCIAL FINE, WIFE SPEAKS OUT

    More details of Bales' financial problems emerged on Monday, with evidence that his four and a half-year career as a securities broker was marred by an order to pay almost $1.3 million to a customer he defrauded.

    March 20, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  3. BalesandWallstreet

    BALE OUTS > OFFICER qualifications > YEAR 2000 :))

    FINANCIAL FINE, WIFE SPEAKS OUT

    More details of Bales' financial problems emerged on Monday, with evidence that his four and a half-year career as a securities broker was marred by an order to pay almost $1.3 million to a customer he defrauded.

    March 20, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mary

    If anything happens, the US will be the last to pass such a law.

    March 20, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sporky08

    So we are going to ignore that most people with eating disorders are looking for something that they feel is controllable in their lives, not looking to be pretty? I'd rather see PSA's about stress and talking to people and depression over insane laws about advertising, when the cause for disorder is much deeper than "She looks better than me!".

    March 20, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sofa King

    Now that their models are fatter, they will need more land. Watch them use this aa an excuse to re-occupy Gaza and the West Bank, maybe even the Sinai.

    March 20, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • berman

      Some people – like you- are just so full of hatred. It's unreal. I pity you.

      March 20, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BOMBO ©

    This is a good thing. Skinny people are too grumpy.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John Kantor

    I'm a 5'10" male who has always been under 18.5 BMI because I eat right and am naturally slender. It's just a way for lazy people to justify eating badly and being out of shape.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • berman

      Dude, being 5"10 and weighing more than 140 pounds doesn't make you fat. You're a bean pole.

      March 20, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • dragonwife

      Yes, some people are naturally slim, and yes, there are many people who are way too heavy and do nothing about it. However, fashion designers and the media have distorted the idea of "slim" until it now means "skeletal". NOT everyone can be slim, no matter how hard they try; genetics play a big part in body shape and metabolism. It's like saying, "Anyone can be six feet tall if they just do enough stretching." – not gonna happen. Now, I'm not saying that people shouldn't eat right and exercise, far from it. But there are a lot of us who DO eat healthily, and DO exercise regularly, and still carry extra pounds, and I'm one of them. I eat healthy food in reasonable portions (around 1500-1600 calories a day), rarely eat between meals, exercise for at least an hour at least five days a week, and take a martial arts class three days a week, yet I'm still overweight and have been about the same weight for years. My doctor says I'm doing everything right, and that my health is very good for my age. So please don't automatically assume that every overweight person you see is "lazy".

      March 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • kake79

      So? You're a man. Men naturally have lower BMIs than women. Not that BMI is a great measurement overall, but it's a decent rule of thumb.

      March 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • model

      dear john,
      there is no way to be under 18.5 if you are eating right !! (3 meals a day !! 2000 calories a day at least !!!) and exercise

      March 20, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jez

    Excessive weight leads to tons (no pun intended) of health issues. People weren't this fat in the 1950s when mothers actually knew how to cook from scratch. Being anorexic is a problem, just as is being overweight. The whole "plus size model" is just a strategy to sell to overweight people. Models are clothes hangers – clothes just look better on thin people. The problem is body image problems stemming from low self-esteem.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • berman

      Nobody's talking about using fat models. We're talking about not allowing a 5'11" 100 pound model to be propped up as a thing of "beauty" to be imitated

      March 20, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • kake79

      "The whole "plus size model" is just a strategy to sell to overweight people. Models are clothes hangers – clothes just look better on thin people. The problem is body image problems stemming from low self-esteem."

      That's such a load of crap. "Plus" size models are usually a seize 8/10 which is perfectly healthy. In fact, plus size clothes don't even come that small; plus sizes start at 16. And, as for the clothes hanger remark; if clothes look better on the hanger than they do on the woman, then the designer is to blame. And, yes, I mean blame because any good designer should be making the clothes so that they looks best on a woman's body with breasts and hips and all.

      March 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. saywhat

    Good for Israeli women folk.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Zee

    We've always had skinny models (and actresses, singers, etc.) We don't have an anorexia epidemic. What we do have is a seriously fat epidemic. We'd like to ban skinny people because it reminds overweight people that they have an uncontrolled short coming and dissatisfaction with their bodies. I know, I know, some people are big n' proud – more power to 'ya, but for the rest, the former applies. And, as another poster commented, anorexia is far deeper than appearance – many anorexics even try to hide their thinness. Anorexia is associated with OCD and a great need to have extreme control, and/or to be child-sized and therefore more love-able. Banning underweight models should be about banning industry imposed starvation, but not about misguided intententions to make overweight people feel better or to prevent anorexia.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Black Ratt

    They need to tell that to american models

    March 20, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. StupidLaw

    Dumb law, if anything they should ban fat people on TV.. They cause obesity in people... Skinny models promote healthy living 😀

    March 20, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Barry G.

    Well done, Israel.

    I wish the US and the rest of the world had the good sense and scruples Israel has shown, in protecting the health of females.

    Of course the US congressional leaders allows the lobbyists to be their moral compass, and that’s insane!

    March 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Barry G.

    I must say–Well done, Israel.

    I wish the US and the rest of the world had the good sense and scruples Israel has shown, in protecting the health of females.

    Of course the US congressional leaders allows the lobbyists to be their moral compass, and that’s insane!

    March 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
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