Israel can point to one indisputably successful international export, which so far, no one has shown any interest in boycotting: drop-dead gorgeous models.
Sports Illustrated bikini-wearing, DiCaprio-dating Bar Rafaeli may be the current the leader of the pack, but she is part of a long and glorious tradition, following in the high-heeled footsteps of those who went before her like Shiraz Tal and Michaela Bercu, who conquered and occupied the covers of fashion magazines and billboard before her.
The unrealistically slender proportions of fashion models often further reduced by photographic touch-ups, the international culture of fashion and music videos and the simple fact that Israel is a coastal bathing-suit wearing culture means that at any given moment, most of the female population here is on a diet. Like the rest of the world, body-consciousness develops at an alarmingly young age and eating disorders are a growing problem among Israeli youth, just as they are worldwide.
A new bill in the Knesset would ban the use of underweight models — those whose Body Mass Index falls under 18.5 — from appearing in advertisements, and require full disclosure on digital enhancement. Called the “Photoshop Law” it would require putting a notice on any advertisement in which models were enhanced, altered or reduced. The bill’s co-sponsors, MK Rachel Adatto of Kadima and Danny Danon of Likud, wrote in the bill that:
The prevalence of eating disorders, including anorexia, is on the rise in Israeli society in recent years, especially among teenage girls. Research proves that one of the reasons for eating disorder among young women is the influence of the media and advertising which presents especially skinny women as standards to emulate, and by this affect youths’ standards. The fashion industry and especially the advertising industry have created a distorted image of the ideal woman when many of the models appearing in advertisements are in a state of undernourishment. The Israeli law follows in the footsteps of the Madrid City Council which, in 2006, rocked the fashion world when it banned underweight models from Madrid Fashion Week. A similar measure was being negotiated between Milan Fashion Week organizers and the Italian government, but fell flat. Public pressure on governments to regulate the size of models has failed thus far in poweful fashion capitals of the world including Milan, New York and Paris.
So if Israeli fashion business flexes less muscle and the bill actually passes the Knesset and becomes law, it will be a ground-breaking move for women everywhere — especially those who actually possess hips and thighs.