Even models like Karlie Kloss are routinely photoshopped for magazine spreads. (Photo: MagXOne)
How skinny is too skinny? If you’re a model, casting agent, or magazine publisher working in Israel, that question has just been answered for you. Israel has enacted a new law—effective as of January 1—forbidding models with a body-mass index (BMI) below 18.5 from appearing in ads and editorial spreads.
As the Wall Street Journal reports, the law also requires publications to tell readers when they’ve altered images of models to make them look skinnier. The measures are designed to put healthier-looking models in the spotlight, but it should be noted that they only apply to images produced in Israel, not those imported from other countries.
The ban on too-skinny models in Israel follows over a year of global controversy surrounding the modeling industry. In December of 2011, Vogue Italy came under fire for publishing an image of Karlie Kloss with a very skinny torso, and the negative publicity prompted the magazine to pull the image from their website. Then, in July of last year, Seventeen came out with a “body peace treaty” pledging to never alter its models’ face or body shape after a 14-year-old reader submitted a petition with over 25,000 signatures asking the magazine to stop photoshopping.
So far, there have been no official legislative measures regulating models’ weight anywhere outside of Israel. In the U.S., the Council of Fashion Designers of America has set guidelines that, among other things, ask designers and magazines to provide healthy snacks and meals for working models. They also encourage models with eating disorders to seek help. In my opinion, though, such suggestions evade the root of the problem. Models continue to face pressure to stay extremely thin when they are asked to fit into sample-size-0 clothing, and consumers in turn are confronted with images of a digitally-enhanced skinny ideal.
While Israel’s new law may be extreme, it seems like a step in the right direction.
If you’re still in the dark on this controversial conversation, here’s the news you need to know about the photoshop debates from the last year.