March 19, 2012
The Knesset adopts the “Photoshop Law,” requiring adult fashion and commercial models to have a body-mass index of at least 18.5, in an effort to prevent them from losing weight to the detriment of their health. The law also required that if an image had been altered or digitally manipulated, notification of the alteration needed to be clearly marked. The law was initiated by fashion photographer Adi Barkan after his friend, an Israeli model, died in 2007, weighing 60 pounds and suffering from anorexia. The “Photoshop Law” went into effect on January 1, 2013.
World experts in eating disorders praised the law as a step in the right direction in combatting a growing problem, especially among young women. Some legal scholars noted that Israel’s lack of a constitution helped the bill become a law which in the United States would have been unconstitutional as it restricted freedom of artistic expression.
Dr. Rachel Adatto (shown in the photo), a member of Knesset from the Kadima Party and a physician who served as the Deputy Director of Hadassah Hospital before being elected, was one of the MK’s who introduced the bill. She told the Jerusalem Post that 1,500 Israeli teenagers developed eating disorders each year and was hopeful that the new law would have an impact on the way Israeli youth view themselves: “Extremely thin models have become the ideal in the advertising world, which surrounds us all day long and tells us what to buy and what to do. They can no longer serve as role models for innocent youth that adopt and copy the illusion of thinness.”
From the earliest days of the Zionist Movement, body image remained interconnected with the history of building a strong modern Jew, not the stereotypical Jewish weakling as often depicted in Jewish life in the Diaspora.