Back in March, Israel passed a law that bans underweight models from working, and requires publications to disclose all airbrushing. On Tuesday, the ban finally went into effect.
The law prevents models with a body mass index of less than 18.5 from appearing in advertisements. A person’s BMI is determined by a height and weight ratio, so to meet the new industry standard, a model who is 5-feet 8-inches tall should weigh at least 119 pounds. According to previous reports, models will have to show a medical report stating their BMI every time they go to a job and the report can be dated no more than three months prior, which means that they’ll have to go to the doctor four times a year. The law also states that Israeli publications have to note whether or not an image was digitally altered.
When Vice traveled to Tel Aviv for their most recent episode of Fashion Week Internationale, they met with photographer and agent Adi Barkan, who pledged to only hire models whose BMIs comply with the new standards after a model friend died of a severe eating disorder. Barkan was also a major force behind the just-instituted legislation.
While this is certainly great for Israel, what about America? Well, as CFDA CEO and newly married Steven Kolb explains to WSJ, there is no law in the works for a ban on models. Instead, he emphasized the CFDA’s six-year-old Health Initiative, which (hopefully) educates the industry on identifying early signs of eating disorders, encourages designers not to hire models under 16 for shows, and supplies water and healthy snacks backstage at fashion shows and photoshoots.
“We never had an approach of mandate or enforce. We create awareness and education. We think this has been successful at creating awareness. [The American 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 someoen [sic] but a collective effort by the industry to ensure healthy working conditions.”
While it may be true that the number of underage models have decreased on the runways and that sizes have gone up ever-so-slightly, we think that it’s not enough. Designers and magazines still break the Health Initiative terms, and the fact that the CFDA has to issue annual guidelines to remind the industry that models are human beings, and therefore should be fed and not overworked, is quite sad. We sincerely hope that our predictions about skinny vs. curvy models, and Photoshop come true in 2013.
What do you think the American fashion industry should do? Weigh in below!