Bill may penalize agencies that employ underweight models

Proposed law would require models to present modeling agencies with a doctor’s letter confirming that they were within the healthy BMI range.

June 15, 2010 06:50
2 minute read.
Bill may penalize agencies that employ underweight models

model 88. (photo credit: )

A bill designed to fight eating disorders by placing strict guidelines on modeling agencies and advertisers returned to the Knesset Monday after receiving a leg up from the government a day earlier. The bill, which would require altered pictures to be marked as such and models to maintain a healthy weight, faced a more promising future in the Knesset after the Ministerial Committee for Legislation gave its approval following months of negotiation.

The bill would require models to present modeling agencies with a doctor’s letter confirming that they were within the body mass index (BMI) range determined as healthy – above 18.5%. The models, say sponsors, will have to re-submit doctors’ letters once every six months. MK Danny Danon (Likud), who co-sponsored the bill with MK Rachel Adatto (Kadima), said that the MKs initially had trouble securing support for this clause, as it was seen to restrict freedom of employment.

Any agencies found to employ models who weigh in below the minimum could find themselves subject to heavy fines.

The bill’s second part, which earned it the nickname “the Photoshop Law” would require advertisers to print warnings on any pictures that had been subject to digital editing in order to change models’ appearances.

“The goal of the law is to change the perverted norm of sick, anorexic models,” Danon told the Post. “When I visited the center for eating disorders at Tel Hashomer Hospital, I spoke with some of the sick women and I was convinced that part of the basis for the disease was the distorted models they saw in various publications. It is not just that anorexic models are chosen, but they then use editing programs to manipulate the bodies of the models.”

Danon said that during a hearing in the committee that he chairs, MKs were shown examples of models over the age of 20 who had bodies of 14-year-old girls stuck on to their faces.

This topic, said Danon, enjoys a high level of public awareness throughout the world, and a number of organizations are following the progress of the legislation. The American National Eating Disorders Association sent Danon a letter expressing interest in the bill, and hoping to strengthen international cooperation on the subject.

“There is an understanding that we must change the distorted model, and this is the first practical step,” he explained. “The law is not enough. It must come with together with education.”

Danon said that the bill’s sponsors were initially met with cynicism, “but before the hearing in the Ministerial Committee, we put models who had been sick in contact with ministers’ assistants. Anyone who has been exposed to such stories understands the bill’s importance.”

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