Last week, a law went into effect in Israel that bans models who have a BMI (Body Mass Index) level below 18.5 from the catwalk, photo shoots and advertising campaigns.
The Body Mass Index is commonly used as a standard to classify people into body type categories like underweight, normal, overweight and obese. The number is determined by measuring someone’s weight against their height, squared.
The Israeli government, feeling that the fashion industry deserves the blame for the widespread obsession with skinniness and the prevalence of girls developing body-image issues, responded by requiring all models to have a minimum BMI of 18.5, the low end of the “normal” weight classification.
According to The Daily News, the Israeli government joins groups like Milan Fashion Week, Vogue and the Council of Fashion Designers of America in creating BMI limits, but it is the first time that official legislation has been passed to ban those who project an unhealthy standard in the fashion industry.
Model Yomi Abiola founded Stand up for Fashion (STUFF), a global campaign that promotes “diversity, equality and inclusion” in order to transform “lives through the power of fashion.” She says that while the Israeli legislation is a step in the right direction, the root of the female body image issue goes far beyond BMI.