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New Law in Jerusalem Bans Models with BMI Under 18.5

A new law that took effect on Tuesday states that male and female models who have a body mass index under 18.5 cannot appear in the media, on Israeli websites or walk the catwalk at fashion shows, according to a story in The Jerusalem Post.

Impressionable teens are the aim of the law when it comes to protecting them from eating disorders. It was created by then-Kadima MK Rachel Adatto. An average of 30 young adults and teens die from bulimia or anorexia each year.

The new law was also sponsored by Likud-Beytenu MK Danny Danon and is thought to be the first in the world of its kind. Violations of this law come with a fine and are considered to be criminal offenses. Violators of the new law can be sued in court by citizens and this includes families who had relatives that died or suffered complications from eating disorders.

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The media, despite publishing illegal images, cannot be held liable. Any company that produces an advertisement, runs a fashion show or used a model who is too thin can be sued in court. An advertisement that appears to have been edited to make the model appear as having a body mass index under 18.5 will have a label that warns about the image being distorted. At least seven percent of the ad’s space must be covered by the warning.

Any model who wishes to participate in a fashion show or an advertising campaign has to provide written statements from their physician that says the model’s body mass index, up to no longer than three months ago, is above 18.5. If a note from their doctor is not presented, the model is not permitted to appear in the fashion show or in an advertising campaign.

The creator of the law, Adatto, also works as a gynecologist. She said on January 1 that a “revolution against the anorexic model of beauty begins. Overly skinny models who look as if they eat a biscuit a day and then serve as a model for our children” will no longer be seen.

An advocate of Adatto’s bill, Adi Barkan, is a longtime fashion photographer. Barkan said, “We are all affected. We wear black, do [drastic] diets and are obsessive about our looks. The time has come for the end of the era of skeletons on billboards and sickly thinness all over. The time has come to think about ourselves and our children and take responsibility for what we show them. Too thin is not sexy.”

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