Israel Bans Underweight Models, The U.S. Doesn't Follow Suit

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Back in March, Israel passed a law that bans the use of underweight models in local ads and publications, and yesterday, it finally went into effect.

Under the new guidelines, models must maintain a body mass index of at least 18.5 (that's 119 pounds for a 5'8 woman), and at each casting, they must hand over a medical report, dating back no further than three months, which proves that they are not malnourished by World Health Organization standards.

What's more, all Israeli ads will have to disclose if the model used was digitally altered to appear thinner.

It seems like a step in the right direction, but don't hold your breath for similar legislation in the states. Today, CFDA CEO Steven Kolb told The Wall Street Journal that his organization has no plans to push for a U.S. law that would ban models under a certain weight. "We never had an approach of mandate or enforce," he said. "We create awareness and education."

The CFDA's curent "awareness and education" program — their Health Initiative — excludes models under the age of 16 from working, and discourages designers from hiring models who look "unhealthy." The rules aren't really enforced though — who does or doesn't look healthy is pretty subjective — and Vogue has come under fire several times in the past year for photographing underage girls.

Do you think Israel's regulations are too strict? They do, after all, ban models who just happen to be thin, although less than 5 percent of the population naturally has a BMI of less than 18.5.

Or do you think the U.S. could learn a thing or two from the Israeli fashion industry? Sound off in the comments.
I'm the Senior Associate Editor at StyleBistro. Follow me: Google
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