'Photoshop Law' Will Force Advertisers to Identify Touched-up Images

Advertising firms will have to issue a notice on ads with digitally touched-up models, if the Knesset approves a compromise solution presented yesterday to the cabinet on the so called Photoshop Law.

A model at the 2005 Madrid Fashion Show

The coalition decided yesterday to back a bill that bans showing photos of underweight models in advertisements. The Ministerial Committee for Legislation decided to support the bill, though with substantive changes.

Originally the bill had called for a ban to the hiring of underweight models, as well as a ban on the use of computer programs by advertising agencies, which would alter the dimensions of models.

The compromise legislation allows advertising agencies to use photo altering software, which make possible the changing of dimensions of models in photos, however the agencies will have to issue a notice on each of their advertisements that alterations were made. The law is named for the software program Adobe Photoshop, a widely-used photo altering utility.

The aim of the bill, proposed by MK Rachel Adatto (Kadima ), and Danny Danon (Likud ), is to cut down on eating disorders among youth.

The MKs believe that showing photos of skinny models in the media may contribute to cases of anorexia.

"The prevalence of eating disorders, including anorexia, is on the rise in Israeli society in recent years, especially among teenage girls," the MKs wrote. "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. Such an image is used an a model for emulation mostly by young girls who are trying to lose excessive amounts of weight."

The bill is based on definitions for acceptable body weight on the basis of height, as these are used throughout the world. As such, being under-weight is defined as having less than 18.5 in body mass index. Models that are under the minimum will not be allowed to be shown on advertisements in Israel's media.

The bill also deals with modeling agencies, who will not be allowed to hire underweight models.

Adatto, who is also a medical doctor, said yesterday that "in their vote yesterday the ministers recognized the importance of fighting eating disorders in Israel. The fashion and advertising industries have created a distorted model of ideal feminine beauty, with many of the models appearing on advertising being underweight. Such a image is a model for imitation mostly among girls who are trying to lose weight in any way possible. The vote today is the start of breaking this dangerous model."

Danon said that "the war against eating disorders among children and youth is a national one, and I am glad that the ministers have joined this important struggle today. Eating disorders are not only psychological problems that disrupt quality of life but pose a genuine threat to life."