Adi Barkan’s BMI battle
Adi Barkan, a fashion photographer, has been working for years to get the Knesset to outlaw underweight models, following his own exposure to models suffering from anorexia and bulimia.
Back in 2007, after the death of former model Hila Elmalich who was 34 and weighed less than sixty pounds, he told me the following for Women’s Wear Daily:
“The problem is with society, and the low self-esteem of these girls,” says Barkan. “We need to put this out there, to make it a societal norm in Israel and the rest of the world. People need to see these anorexic bodies and move their butts and do something about this.”
Israel21c interviewed Barkan several times about the issue, and posted the following video:
In March, his perseverance paid off, as the Knesset passed what is being called the Photoshop law, for the aspect of the law that regulates the use of Photoshop to make women appear perfect in advertisements. That’s a huge accomplishment. The bulk — no pun intended — of the law focuses on banning underweight models based on their BMI, or Body Mass Index.
The law is making waves in Israel, and around the world. Can Israel set the precedent for changing the way the fashion industry views and uses models’ bodies?
Interestingly enough, it was on Israel’s new fashion channel, Fashion.net., that a panel of fashion professionals, including clothing designer Yosef and a local fashion magazine editor, agreed that despite the new law and its groundbreaking potential, the fashion world will still view impossibly thin model bodies as the ultimate in goal.
“No one wants to see a curvy, zaftig model,” said Naama Chaisin, who is the second generation in the Tovale designer line of clothing. “And I say that as someone who is curvy and has fought to lose weight my whole life.”
Here’s to hoping she’s wrong.