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Israel: Restrictions on Depiction of Underweight Models in Commercials

(Mar. 26, 2012) On March 19, 2012, the Knesset (Israel's parliament) passed the Law for Restricting Weight in the Modeling Industry, 5772-2012. The Law defines a model as a person who is photographed for the purpose of the use of his or her body image for advertisement, promotion, or presentation of a product, a service, or a brand. (Law for Restricting Weight in the Modeling Industry, 5772-2012, & bill [both in Hebrew], the Knesset website (both last visited Mar. 22, 2012).)

The Law prohibits the production of an advertisement depicting a model in the absence of a medical authorization presented by the model that he or she is not underweight in accordance with a specified BMI (Body Mass Index). The Law provides that a BMI lower than 18.5 for adults will be considered underweight for the purpose of its application. The Law further provides a list of specific BMI values for minors correlated with gender and age. The BMI calculation will be based on a medical exam conducted by a physician within three months preceding the date of the photographing of the model for the advertisement. (Law, supra.)

The Law further requires that advertisements that depict a person's image that have been graphically manipulated for the purpose of narrowing body measurements should include a clearly recognizable clarification regarding the use of such graphic manipulation. The clarification must extend to at least seven percent of the total space of the advertisement. (Id.)

According to the explanatory notes attached to the bill for the Law, the legislation is designed to minimize the negative impact of exposure to advertisements depicting models as extremely thin on positive body image and self esteem and on the development of eating disorders in Israel. (Bill, supra.) A 2010 report of the Knesset Information and Research Center noted the rise in eating disorders in Israel and the role of the media in the dissemination of negative attitudes related to personal weight and self image. (Eti Veissblai, Eating Disorders Among Children and Teenagers: Description of the Phenomenon, Its Prevention and Identification [in Hebrew], the Knesset Information and Research Center (Feb. 8, 2010) (last visited Mar. 22, 2012).)