Israel’s ban on “too-thin” models

Model. Just the word holds connotations of beauty, power and even perfection. We see models everywhere – on billboards, in magazines, in adverts and perhaps in a fashion show or two. But is the ideal of being a model in the fashion industry becoming a dangerous entity?

Models play a bigger role in society than what meets the eye. To some extent they govern what “look” is on trend – for example Gisele Bunchen paved the way for leggy Brazilian’s and Heidi Klum gave the concept of a blonde bombshell a new meaning. Models are strategically used to make us want to ‘better’ ourselves, to aspire to look like the Lóreal woman who refuses to age or the gorgeous young Dolce and Gabanna man who has impeccable abs. These advertising agencies deviously create in us a feeling self-loathing through the portrayal of “natural” beauty in an attempt for us to consume their product.

But what are we doing to stop this from spiralling out of control?

I am happy to announce that the Israeli government have recently joined organizations such as Vogue, Milan Fashion Week and the Council of Fashion Designers of America by putting a restriction on “too-skinny” models by setting a minimum BMI at 18.5. This law, which was effective at the beginning of 2013, successfully blocks models with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of less than 18.5 from not only any catwalk, but from photo-shoots and advertising campaigns too. This law also requires that any use of retouching software be made explicit.

The Jerusalem Post has alleged that 1500 teenagers in Israel develop an eating disorder every year and 5% of these sufferers die from anorexia each year. This is not the end of it – in 2006 and 2007, 2 models died as a result of complications with eating disorders.

However, will this ban actually make a difference? The forerunners of this movement have been criticised for not adhering to the terms of the agreement. Vogue has recently come under fire for displaying pictures of 15 year old Ondria Hardin in its China issue, just three months after undergoing a health initiative to use “healthier” looking models that are not under the age of 16.

Using models under the age of 16 causes a considerable problem amongst the youth in our nation. It leads not only to possible financial mistreatment, interrupted schooling, eating disorders and lack of empowerment in the workplace; but also to a maturity based on the superficial philosophy that their appearance is their only form of power.

Whilst I don’t believe that a “law” will reduce the amount of eating disorders in the modelling industry, I appreciate that governments such as Israel are aware of this very serious problem and are making an effort to instil values into the tricky industry of fashion.

Do you think a law such as this will improve the modelling industry?
Holly Hocks

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