It's a confusing world. While the average woman in the United States is a size 14, that is also the place where plus-sized clothing starts (generally, size 14 and up). But a plus-sized model is usually around a size 8 or so (the woman in the image above, for example is a plus model), while "straight-sized" models are size 0-2. Got that? Basically it breaks down to most women seeing models who are dramatically smaller than they are — whether they are plus-sized or not. The only group, in fact, who can look at a model wearing clothes and see anything close to what they might look like in said clothes are those who are 0-2.


Anyway, numerous studies have shown that these images of women make the real women who are looking at them feel crummy about themselves, and can lead to eating disorders (including a very recent one from the London School of Economics). For us non-economists, his connection is crystal clear if you've ever gone to Thinspiration boards or sites online (these are collections of images women who are either bulimic or anorexic use to "inspire" them, and let's just say there's quite a bit of artful, sexy bones jutting underneath taut skin, and plenty of hollow cheekbones). 


A number of countries have looked at the issue and encouraged the fashion industry to police itself, which not surprisingly, has led to little change. The U.K.'s Advertising Standards approached the issue as a truth-in-advertising one, wherein too-young or overly Photoshopped models aren't allowed. Madrid Fashion Week banned models with a BMI of lower than 18 in 2008, and the issue has been talked about for years. 


But Israel's new rules have defined parameters and specific guidelines that will be enforced, which has never been done before. 


According to Jezebel, "This particular law mandates that models working in Israel prove that they are not malnourished, by producing medical records. (The country will use World Health Organization standards, wherein a body-mass index or BMI below 18.5 is indicative of malnutrition.) In addition, any advertisement published for the Israeli market must include a disclosure line if the model was digitally altered to look thinner."


For comparison/information, that 18.5 BMI equates to a 5'10'' woman (average model height) with a weight of 128 or a 5'4" woman (the average height of an American woman) with a weight of 108 pounds. 


Do you think this is a step in a positive direction? 

Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

Israel bans too-skinny models
Enforced weight standards for models are the first in the world.