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Susan Cowden, MS

Israel Bans Underweight Models

By March 27, 2012

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Last week, Israel became the first country in the world to ban the use of models who are considered underweight.  This landmark piece of legislation uses the World Health Organization's BMI standards for malnourishment as measurement of whether or not the model would be allowed to walk runways and appear in advertisements.  Models will need to produce a recent medical report stating that they are above the BMI required in order to work.  Time Magazine reports that it is estimated that half of Israel's 300 models will need to gain weight in order to continue working.  The law also requires advertisers to disclose whether or not a photograph of a model has been retouched in order to make the model appear thinner.

The law is a huge step forward in the effort towards representing healthier and more realistic people in advertisements, so that consumers aren't comparing themselves to depictions which are unattainable and unhealthy.  However, it is important to remember that not all people with eating disorders are underweight - and not all people who are underweight, by WHO standards, have eating disorders. It is, like most laws, imperfect, but definitely a success in the fight against eating disorders and towards body acceptance.

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