New Israeli Bill Seeks to Widen Ad Ban to All Underweight Models

Expansion of the bill to include foreign models is expected to be introduced at a session of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee.

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A bill seeking to ban the use of underweight models in Israeli advertising also aims to prevent Israel's media from using ads produced overseas with too-thin models.

The bill is an effort to discourage an idealization of overly thin bodies, out of concern that such advertising encourages eating disorders and distorts perceptions - particularly among young people - of what a health body should look like.

Israeli model Esti Ginzburg.Credit: Courtesy

The expansion of the bill to include foreign models is expected to be introduced on Monday at a session of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee. The bill will then advance, apparently next week, to the final two phases in the approval process, when it will be put to a vote on second and third reading by the full Knesset. Although the bill, which is sponsored by Rachel Adatto (Kadima ) and Danny Danon (Likud ), will apply to Israeli media that use images of foreign models, it will not apply to the foreign magazines distributed in Israel, a source involved in the drafting of the bill said.

The draft also includes a provision requiring that ads featuring computerized "photoshopped" alterations to images that make models look thinner must note that fact. The bill defines models as underweight in keeping with the internationally accepted standard based on their Body Mass Index, or BMI, calculated based on a person's height and weight in kilograms. Anyone with a BMI under 18.5 is considered underweight.

The bill raises the question, however, of how advertisers are to measure models' BMIs. "As a concept, we are in favor of the legislation," said Gil Samsonov, an advertising agency owner. "With regard to acquisitions from abroad, it will be necessary to find out what can be done. We will have to request the data from firms abroad, and if we are the first country doing this, it could create a problem."

"This law will shatter the anorexic ideal of beauty transmitted by the media, the fashion industries and advertising, and will protect the health of Israel's young people," said Adatto, who heads the Knesset health lobby and is also a physician.

Danon, who is chairman of the children's health parliamentary lobby, said the law would deal a "knockout" blow in the battle for children's heath in making underweight models "a thing of the past."

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