It took then-Kadima MK Rachel Adatto two years to push through a bill banning
the use of Photoshop to “remake” the images of models in advertising pictures
because she needed to prove that the images and the eating disorder were linked
Although Adatto, a gynecologist and lawyer by training,
was not reelected, she now has solid evidence. Microsoft has completed research
in Israel and the US that found a clear connection between the exposure of young
people to overly-thin models and the development of the potentially deadly
eating disorder of anorexia.
Dr. Elad Yom-Tov, of Microsoft- Israel’s
research and development center, and Dr. Dana Boyd, of its R&D center in New
York, examined the connection between web searches for performers and models
regarded as anorexic and the fans’ searches for websites with tips on to “how to
Microsoft says this was the first peer-reviewed
published study to establish such a link.
Adatto’s Photoshop bill became
law in 2012. Besides banning the digital alteration of photos to enhance
thinness in advertisements, it also bars anorexic models from
Models who wish to appear in such ads have to be examined
regularly by physicians to determine that their body mass index is not so low
that they are seriously underweight.
The Microsoft research found that
anorexic models and celebrities appearing on websites led to an almost two-fold
increase in subsequent searches for these people and the development of anorexia
itself. People who develop anorexia tend to become more interested in
celebrities who look as if they are starving.
Media coverage that does
not mention cases of very low weight results in a 33 percent growth in the
likelihood that the fans will become anorexic.
When the coverage clearly
discusses anorexia, the tendency for searches is relatively small.
thinness is praised as a sign of beauty, web surfers try to copy them. When the
way they look is identified as a disease, not many are keen on aping
The research was recently published in the International Journal of
Adatto, who received news of the study from The
Jerusalem Post, said she was grateful to hear this as she had constantly been
looking for scientific evidence of the link.
“Only after we brought some
scientific evidence did we succeed in eliminating the Justice Ministry’s
opposition to the bill,” she said.
Additional research would bolster the
importance of the law and the need for cooperation among all factors dictating
the erroneous view that “skinny is beautiful,” the physician and former MK
She added that the law was not perfect because it was civil rather
than criminal in nature.
“This was forced on us as a compromise to
advance the legislation,” she told the Post.
“Over-involvement of MKs’
legal advisers interfered. Thus, one can only file a civil suit for damages. We
are now preparing a lawsuit against one of the companies that bluntly violates
Newspapers or other media that show anorexic models as an
editorial spread and not an advertisement for fashion or other products are not
included under the law.