Israel made law banning anorexic models: BMIs below 18.5 are not to be seen on catwalk or in photo


Israel just passed a law banning models with a BMI (body mass index) level below 18.5.

The Israeli government joins a number of other organizations like Milan Fashion Week, Vogue and the Council of Fashion Designers of America in setting minimum BMI limits. However this is the first time that a country has set down legislation for a wholesale ban on what are viewed by some as unhealthily skinny models.

Having starred in shoots for Vogue Italia, British Elle, and Harpers Bazaar, the Columbia University and Sciences-Po-educated model Yomi Abiola founded Stand up for Fashion (STUFF) in October 2012. STUFF is a global campaign promoting diversity, equality and inclusion, which aims to "transform lives through the power of fashion."

According to Abiola, the move by the Israeli state is well-intentioned: "legislation certainly creates a context and framework for changes around body image to be made," she said in an email to Relaxnews. In reality, though, the problems lie much deeper as "eating disorders and female body image are beyond a number on the body mass index."

Isabelle Caro the anorexic model who dared to bare it all in the Nolita anti anorexia campaign above, died from the disease at the tender age of 28, her mother committed suicide only two months later. Do these types of laws help?

Caro is not the first martyr for the ultra-skinny set. In 2006, Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston died of kidney failure at the age of 22. She was 5 foot 8 inches and weighed 88 pounds. A few months later, Uruguayan model Luisel Ramos died of heart failure right on the catwalk in Montevideo, Uruguay. She was 5 foot 9 and weighed 97 pounds. In 2007, 5-foot-6 inch-tall Israeli Elite model Ilanit (Hila) Elmalich died in the hospital after dropping to 49 pounds, her tragic death captured on video. Each of these senseless deaths sparked a wave of hand-wringing in the fashion industry, and sparked some efforts at reforming the practices that enable this disease. In 2007 in France, after Caro’s disturbing photos emerged, legistlation was introduced to make all top models pass health tests and carry an international health card. The bill stalled in parliament. In London, Fashion Week organizers have banned size 00 clothing, though critics say many designers have simply resized their samples. In both Milan and Madrid, models must have a body mass index of 18 to work the fashion shows even though anything under 20 is considered underweight and measurements are often taken months before the actual shows. In other words, none of these changes have really altered the catwalk culture.

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

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    Feb 19, 2013

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