How Israel outlawed malnutrition in the fashion industry

Models will now have to provide proof they are in good health

Model of perfect health

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Israel may not be the first country to express concern about malnutrition in the fashion industry, but it is the first to actually outlaw it. Last week, the Knesset passed a law that prohibits the employment of underweight fashion models and demands that all models seeking work in the Israeli fashion industry provide their employers with a recent medical report confirming they are not malnourished by World Health Organization standards.

And that’s not all: according to the new law, any ad made for the Israeli market that uses photos in which models have been digitally altered to look thinner must include a disclaimer indicating the alteration. Supporters of the new law say they want to raise self-esteem among young women in Israel, where approximately two per cent of girls between 14 and 18 suffer from severe eating disorders.

Adi Barkan is an unlikely supporter of his country’s new law. As a well-known modelling agent, he says he’s seen numerous girls starve themselves to achieve an unrealistic industry standard. “They look like dead girls,” he says. He estimated in The Huffington Post that about 150 Israeli models would be prohibited from working under the new legislation.

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