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. Greek American

    Skinny models are hot

    March 20, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. humor

    did it not occur to anybody that the foot used in this article is really unattractive – and certainly NOT from a model of any size?

    March 21, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Mario Ohio

      Unattractive? They look like a female teen's feet to me, what with French tips and all. Maybe you are just envious 🙂

      March 21, 2012 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
    • wasso

      You're anti-Semitic remarks are disturbing ! How dare you insult Jewish feets ?

      March 21, 2012 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
    • wasso

      Your anti-semitic remarks are disturbing. How dare you insult jewish feets !

      March 21, 2012 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
    • pUCKLES

      Those are some seriously ugly feet. I have seen this exact image used in other stories, and there are always people who comment on the ugly feet! LOL When I checked the comments to see if anyone was commenting on the ugly feet, this is the first comment I came across. LOL

      March 21, 2012 at 1:42 am | Report abuse |
  3. ThrowMeaBone

    I HATE knarly toe nails! CNN needs a new foot model

    March 21, 2012 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  4. mm

    Beyond skinny is malnourished. They may look ok with clothes on but take off the clothes and they are nothing but bones knocking on death's door. These girls and guys are going to drive up health care cost because they are going to suffer and have kids with medical issues.

    March 21, 2012 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Mario Ohio

      Please don't confute two different issues. Models that are too skinny may be malnourished or may have an eating disorder, at least some of them, but to state that they will drive up health care costs is a smokescreen for the millions of Americans who are obese or overweight. Diabetes and heart disease are some of the worst cost drivers in health care.

      March 21, 2012 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mario Ohio

    A body mass of 18.5 or less? At a BMI of 18, I must either be too skinny or a model.

    March 21, 2012 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  6. pUCKLES

    The bulbous little toes are the worst! LOL

    March 21, 2012 at 1:43 am | Report abuse |
  7. Alexfox

    I hope also that Israel pass a law to give the Palestinian their land back

    March 21, 2012 at 3:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      Shut up, what is the connection? Israel dosen't have to give any land back to nobody, it never belonged to the so called "palastnian nation" !

      March 21, 2012 at 5:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Wael

      Yes, I hope the same soon

      March 21, 2012 at 5:46 am | Report abuse |
    • jo sm0o

      I think fat people should be outlowed, due to the negative impact on health.

      March 21, 2012 at 6:23 am | Report abuse |

      Good One.

      March 21, 2012 at 6:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Darine Halabi

      I agree ! CNN does never mention Khader Adnan and Hana Chalabi who have been 'hunger striking' for a long time ! They also might go under-weight ! Oh no wait, they are 'just' Palestinians !
      From Beirut, Lebanon.

      March 21, 2012 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  8. Sharon

    Yes! About time the rest of the world started enforcing ethical advertising too. Let's not have another generation of teenage girls vomiting, starving and dying to conform to the 'beauty' image of a digitally altered skeleton! Magazine advertisers make millions by creating the illusion of inadequacy in the Western world's women. Time this greed was unveiled for the damage it does to the psychological well-being of our society!

    March 21, 2012 at 4:01 am | Report abuse |
  9. ouflak

    My biggest concern with such laws is that not all of us are made equally. Some of us are perfectly healthy but just plain don't gain weight no matter how much we eat and how much we even try. It is true that there are a lot of people out there who have problems with their weight, and this considered unattractive. And there is no question that the modeling has gone to some extremes as far as female models are concerned. But it would be a shame to be turned down for a modeling job just because your BMI doesn't match some government accepted value. That's almost as bad forcing this bony image of beauty down our throats.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:07 am | Report abuse |
  10. Bob

    It is sad that women who are skinny despite eating well are being ostracized. I know such a woman. On the other hand, what's the point with very skinny models? It would be as strange as if it the opposite would be the case – very obese models. It would makes sense for advertisement that is not out to portray an ideal size (very obese and very skinny are also people), but else just a bit weird.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:56 am | Report abuse |
  11. Tom

    I have no skin in this and couldn't care less about what goes on in the fashion industry, but banning skinny models if that happens en vogue and is what people want see? Isn't that like trying to legislate taste? So in a couple of years when voluptuous Rubenesque models are all the rage, they're gonna ban overweight models? Yeah right!
    Get a life, folks!

    March 21, 2012 at 5:08 am | Report abuse |
  12. RC

    "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."

    That is absurd. It is not about a few skinny naturals. It is about the unhealthy image which is promoted by the advertising industry,

    March 21, 2012 at 5:20 am | Report abuse |
  13. RC

    I see that you have thoughts about naturally skinny models who won't get their job. The same can be said about naturally fat women, naturally ugly women – they also won't get a job in a modeling business.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:22 am | Report abuse |
  14. Audreyandyou

    when i heard the news ,i was so delighted that as a girl ,i do not need to lose weight to meet public demand.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:51 am | Report abuse |
  15. jo sm0o

    This is an outrage. It is a hate based on attack on those who are not gluttonous.

    March 21, 2012 at 6:26 am | Report abuse |
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