"Beautiful is not underweight, beautiful should not be anorexic,"
In an effort to curb rampant media usage of unrealistic images and ideals of women, Israel has banned the use of certain bodies used in advertising.
Models, mannequins, and other advertisements can no longer be used if their BMI (Body Mass Index) falls below 18.5.
For a basic reference, see the image below. Image Courtesy of www.scientificpsychic.com
This move was made to curb the proliferation of eating disorders and low self-esteem. According to the Jerusalem Post, "every year, some 1,500 teenagers develop an eating disorder, and 5% of those suffering from anorexia die each year."
Also added in the ban was the stipulation that all images that have been airbrushed/edited/manipulated have to be clearly labeled as such. This stipulation was added to keep companies from getting models that are just slightly above the threshold and then manipulating the images to make them look smaller than the guidelines.
Even big fashion has taken notice of the issues: Milan's fashion week doesn't allow those with a BMI below 18.5 and the Madrid fashion show prohibits models with a BMI lower than 18.
In the United Kingdom and the United States, there are guidelines but the industry is self-regulated.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America has also recommended similar ideas in the United States, but no ban has been implemented. If you are interested in reading the CFDA's recommendations, I have provided the link here: Council of Fashion Designers of America's Health Initiative
The Israeli ban has been met with opposition. Many critics of this move have cited the need to address the health issues and not just have a cut-off weight. In a global society that focuses so much energy and money on health issues these days, it's certainly understandable that there are people who sit in the middle on the issue.
If we do just use a cut-off weight/BMI, who is to say that it won't encourage overeating in the tiniest of women who want to be "healthy" enough to model?
Thoughts On The Issue
What is your opinion on these actions and recommendations? Is it a positive move toward health, or just more body shaming at the opposite end of the spectrum? Do you think things could be handled better?
Obviously, the eating disorders and low self-esteem need to be addressed. Is there a way to do so, without body shaming those who simply cannot gain weight?
Can this be fixed by government imposed bans, and if not, what measures as a society must we take to remedy the health problems while increasing body positivity?