Israel Bans Skinny Models In Fashion Industry To Promote Health

Israel banned skinny models in order to promote more healthy living in Israel’s youth. New legislation passed by the Knesset requires fashion companies in Israel to use models with healthy body types.

Israel’s skinny model law, which went into effect Tuesday, bans skinny models with a Body Mass Index, or BMI, of less than 18.5 from appearing in Israeli advertisements. According to that BMI standard, females model with a height of 5 feet, 8 inches must weigh at least 119 pounds or more. Advertising agencies are also not allowed to photoshop, or alter, digital photographs to make models appear thinner than reality. Sounds like models with more curves may discover that finding a job suddenly becomes easier.

According to, Israel banned skinny models by enforcing the rules on companies in order to protect the youth from unhealthy life choices:

“Companies will have to present a medical file of their employee, certifying she maintained a healthy body weight for three months prior to a given photo session or show. The legislation also restricts the digital tampering of photos to visually reduce the weight of the model, with companies required to explicitly label the pictures as modified. Some 90 percent of Israel’s population suffering from eating disorders is estimated to comprise young girls aged 12-20.”

Israel is not the first nation to promote health by banning underweight models from the runway and advertisement. According to The Wall Street Journal, in Europe, a number of models have died of anorexia in recent years, causing their governments to react:

“[P]ublic outcry led authorities in a number of countries—including Spain and Italy—to attempt to regulate models’ weight. The Madrid Fashion Show bans women whose BMI is below 18. Milan’s Fashion Week bans models with a BMI below 18.5.”

The US fashion’s industry main representative, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), has chosen to emphasize guidelines for healthy conditions instead of an outright ban. According to The Wall Street Journal, “CFDA has a six-year-old program aimed at providing healthy environments for models based on recommendations from nutritionists, eating disorder specialists and fitness trainers.” They have declined to criticize Israel’s ban on skinny models:

“We never had an approach of mandate or enforce. We create awareness and education. [The US fashion industry] has made great strides, particularly around age. We’ve seen a sharp decrease in underage models working during fashion week. We believe in consistent messaging from the CFDA, not pointing your finger at someone but a collective effort by the industry to ensure healthy working conditions.”

As Israel bans skinny models what do you think the US fashion industry, should do about health problems related to adolescent girls, body image, and anorexia?