To combat a growing problem with anorexia and bulimia, a new law in Israel bans fashion models who are considered unhealthily thin and requires the labeling of photos that are digitally altered to make the models look thinner.
Unhealthily thin is defined as a body-mass index lower than 18.5. An example being tossed around is that a woman 5 feet 8 inches tall who weighs 120 pounds would be considered, well, not quite kosher for the cameras. That’s a long way from zaftig, but certainly an improvement over the bony waifs that have too long been held up as icons of beauty.
The backlash against unrealistically thin images of what people, especially women, should look like is welcome, and in the United States, a handful of fashion magazines have pledged to use only “healthy” models, whatever that means. But it’s still a little unclear what this measure will accomplish, especially considering that body-mass index is a faulty way of measuring healthy weight. It’s essentially a ratio of weight and height that is supposed to indicate body fat, but people with heavier bones and greater muscle mass who are low in body fat will often have a higher BMI than a person with more fat but a small build.