Israel may have just set a precedent for raising the standard when it comes to a model’s health in the business. Israel legislation passed on Monday forbidding the hiring of underweight models. The goal is to put an end to the extremely thin images we see in media and to put a stop to the pressure felt by women to lose weight; both young and old.
This is not the first time this subject has come into the spotlight. The industry has long been criticized for hiring models well below the average size woman. It was in 2006 that Madrid said they were banning the use of fashion models with a body mass index below 18 during its fashion week. There was no law that restricted it and rather it was an adopted policy. The U.S., Canada and U.K. have guidelines but no strict policies addressing the issue. That’s what makes Israel’s new law so monumental. There are serious plans to enforce it.
Model Danielle Segal was told she was too fat for the modelling industry and she lost so much weight she ended up being hospitalized for malnutrition. At 5 feet 7 inches tall (1.7metres) she weighed 116 pounds (53 Kgs) when she was told to lose the weight. She lost so much weight she went down to 88 pounds (40kgs). At such a low weight, it’s only natural her health would be affected.
Going forward, models in Israel will be required to show a medical report that states they are not malnourished by World Health Organization standards. The report cannot be older than three months. Malnutrition standards are measured using body mass index which, is calculated based on weight and height. According to the World Health Organization, a body mass index below 18.5 is an indicator of malnutrition. With this new law, it’s estimated that 300 models in Israel will not be allowed to work until they put on some weight.
This issue has gained much more attention especially after the death of models in Brazil and Uruguay that were related to eating disorders a few years ago. Of course some argue that models are naturally thin and this law isn’t fair to those who are.
It’s been said that images of extremely thin women contribute to eating disorders among women. The unrealistic images can affect the psychological and emotional health of young women. Uri Pinus, who is a social worker in a Jerusalem hospital, said “…our expectation is that this law will impact the wider public, it will reduce pressure on the girls to lose weight.”
This new law is certainly a step in the right direction however unless other countries get on board, this will still be a long battle.