As Israel bans underweight models, is the fashion industry ready to turn over a new leaf?
Whilst Israel’s new law ironically comes into effect in January, a month which has long been associated with post-Christmas dieting and an abundance of exercise, their new law which makes it illegal for models to have a BMI of less than 18.5, is surely a step in the right direction for the fashion industry. It is an initiative that has been welcomed by many in Israel, which in similarity with the UK, is a country where eating disorders amongst young people is becoming an increasingly prevalent problem.
However, this ray of sunshine is unfortunately tainted by a deceivingly large stormy cloud, as although the new law will benefit the health of all models to a certain extent, the reputation of fashion brands and magazine publications, the law does not impose a ban on manipulation of photographs of models; instead they will only have to disclose when a photo has been edited. This seems to be the obvious get out clause for the fashion, magazine and media industry, as whilst publications in Israel may employ models who are deemed ‘healthy’, young girls will still be exposed to advertisements containing images of overtly thin models.
Although, there is no doubt that Israel’s new law has once again bought this highly debated issue to the forefront of parliament, which has forced other Countries to comment on their own regulations. For the USA, Steven kolb, the Chief Executive of the Council of Fashion Designers of America explained that whilst ‘there are no plans in place for a U.S. law banning models under a certain weight or BMI, he stressed that the CFDA has a six year old programme in place aimed at providing healthy environments for models based on recommendations from nutritionists, eating disorder specialists and fitness trainers’. Additionally, whilst the Madrid and Milan Fashion shows have a BMI restriction in place for their catwalk models, it will be interesting to see if other countries like the UK and the USA implement similar restrictions for their 2013 Fashion shows in order to match and comply with those in Europe.
Though, as I sit here with the latest edition of Vogue in front of me and cast my eye over the pages, it is still hard to believe that these are the models who are deemed ‘healthy’ and who are still being used throughout an international publication which last May pledged to solely use models ‘which help to promote a healthy body image’. Therefore, to put it mildly, progress in this area on a global scale is still incredibly slow, and with only one country with an implemented law in place it seems as though it will be a long time until the average 11stone UK woman is pictured regularly and unedited in the fashion world.
By Hattie Lee