As fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris finish their shows, Israel passes a law preventing the use of underweight models.
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL (REUTERS) - Israeli lawmakers on Monday night (March 19) banned underweight models from catwalks and commercials, a measure they hope will reduce eating disorders and promote a healthy body image.
The law says women and men cannot be hired for modelling jobs unless a doctor stipulates they are not underweight, with a body mass index (BMI) -- a measure expressing a ratio of weight to height -- of no less than 18.5.
The law also bans the use of a person who "appears underweight" and says advertisers must explicitly state if graphic manipulation was done to make a model look thinner in a photo.
Rachel Adato, one of the lawmakers who pushed the bill, said ahead of the vote she hoped the law would protect youth from pursuing unattainable ideals of beauty.
"Beautiful is not underweight. Beautiful shouldn't be anorexia. Anorexia is a very, very dangerous disease and that's the reason, that's the justification why we need this legislation," she said.
Adi Barkan, an Israeli fashion photographer and model agent who collaborated with Adato on promoting the law, said impossible standards set by the fashion industry were getting too dangerous and he hoped other nations would follow Israel's lead.
Danit Rozman, an Israeli model on Barkan's set, said it was important for young women to accept who they were.
"I think that it's important to just be who you are. That's when you're the most comfortable and that's when you look the best," she said.
Designers and agencies have often been criticised for putting relentless pressure on their models to stay unhealthily thin. After two anorexic Latin American models died in 2006, countries including Italy and India banned underweight models from the catwalk.