How Israel Is Ahead Of The Rest When It Comes To Body Positive Fashion Moves


When you think of fashion around the world, you normally think of cities like New York, Paris or Milan. It’s very rare that Israel is on the top of the list of world-renowned fashion destinations, but there is a movement happening in the country that is setting them apart in terms of body positive fashion moves.

On January 1st 2013, they made a loud statement across the global fashion industry by banning underweight models in advertising and on catwalks. What that means is models will have to prove they have a body mass index of 18.5 or higher. Some think this move sets a new standard and forces people in the industry to portray healthier images of women, and some model agencies disliked the move in Israel saying it will prevent naturally skinny girls from working.

The BMI standard came from the minimum level set by the World Health Organization, so while we don’t doubt this is a great move in our opinion, it’s important for the naysayers to understand this isn’t a dig at naturally thin girls, it’s about setting a healthy standard.

One of the most common problems often associated with the pushing of narrow and unrealistic beauty ideals are eating disorders. Although these may seem like a “Western problem”, Israel actually has one of the highest rates of anorexia, bulimia and binge eating in the world. Medical professionals say this is closely linked to the fact that the culture and religion is heavily based around food. Yet because of the many taboos that exist in Jewish faiths, the diseases go largely unreported. Experts say even Jewish communities in the United States have a large amount of eating disorders amongst young women, yet the reluctance to report it is keeping the sufferers in danger.

Given this information, it is no surprise that the Israeli fashion industry and media are working to break down the problems. The latest move of this kind is by the largest newspaper in the country, Yedioth Ahronoth, which has declared it has banned the use of photoshop on models featured in its pages.


A report by Global News in Canada says the publication will still allow minor touch-ups on a models face, but in a bid to promote a healthier body image all-round, altering an image to look different to its natural state will not be allowed.

“The world of fashion is a world of fantasy – of course we know it, but we don’t have to push it too much,” said one of the paper’s fashion photographers Iddo Lavie.

This whole idea of fashion being a “fantasy” and “aspirational” goes to the level of BS when images of girls who don’t even look like that are portrayed in advertising and in the pages of a magazine. We’re not quite sure who came up with that weak excuse in the first place, but let’s just get one thing straight – no one “aspires” to be like a woman or a man that might as well be a character out of the latest CGI Hollywood blockbuster.

Photographer Iddo remarks that the changes in photoshop trends have changed over time, but it is interesting to see how it is still a very prominent tool used.

“If we look at beauty campaigns from a few years back, you will see that the skin was like crystal or something. It was unreal and now when you are looking at ads of the most biggest campaigns (from) all over the world, you can see all the skin, it looks more natural. So it works, it’s step by step. But what happened in the last few decades? It’s unreal,” he said.

Newspaper insiders say this decision was made after the law banning underweight models, called the “Photoshop Law” which went into effect. Israel became the first country in the world to enact such a law, which also requires companies to disclose the amount of digital enhancement used in an image. And given that they are the biggest news source in the country, we are hoping this example will influence many other publications to follow suit!


“Israel, in a really weird way, is one of the leaders in creating a new era where models are not retouched with their body image and the whole Photoshop issue is more conscious than in other countries,” said Yedioth Ahronoth’s fashion editor, Sahar Shalev, who added that he hopes the paper’s decision to ban photoshop “is one step into making this world a little bit better.”

They absolutely are leaders of change! When we look at the most prominent names and stories about fashion today, they aren’t necessarily about labels or designers, they are often about people doing something radical in order to make the industry more inclusive and healthy for all involved, as well as the consumers who hang on every trend and image they see.

Despite Elite modeling agency in Israel being an outspoken voice against the Photoshop Law when it went into effect saying it will hurt a model’s career, one model actually praised Yedioth Ahronoth for banning photoshop.

“When I started when I was 14 and a half, it was in ’86, it was no Photoshop at all. I mean nobody knew what it is and, at the time, I used to do a lot of bathing suit campaigns and we just didn’t eat the day before and what you see is what you got. Now when I’m looking at it it’s weird because the eye is so used to seeing Photoshop, that everything is so perfect, that it’s really really weird to see these kinds of photos today,” said Shelly Gafni, a top Israeli model, to Global News. She has been working in the industry for 30 years.

She kinda hit the nail on the head about it being “weird” because anything new or different is going to sometimes be a little difficult to accept at first. But that just shows you how ingrained the narrow standards are, that we still hear negative reactions to the expanding definitions of beauty because we have been brainwashed to think size zero Caucasian is the standard.

Here’s to more fashion industry and media companies recognizing the need to evolve the definition of beauty by making decisions that promote healthier ideals.



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