Too thin to model?

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*edit 3/26 2:44am – someone just told me that the picture above may be photoshopped to add ribs, so here’s another photo.

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Last Monday, a new law passed in Israel that banned models from getting modeling gigs if they are too thin. “Too thin” under the law is a BMI (ratio of weight to height) under 18.5. The law also says that if a model looks underweight, she can’t be used either. And if any graphic manipulation was done in a photo to create a thinner illusion, it must be clearly stated.

I think that this is a great step towards creating a more realistic and attainable standard of beauty for us women. It will help promote healthier lifestyles in the modeling industry and put somewhat of a stop to eating disorders.

But this law is flawed.

I understand that statistically anyone with a BMI under 18.5 is considered underweight (normal is between 18.5-24.9 for women), but what about the girls that are naturally thin and healthy with low BMIs? Everyone’s body is built differently. I think it is a MISTAKE to judge a woman’s health based just on this number. It is the same thing as judging someone based on the number that appears on a scale. And the subjective part about not letting someone model who simply “looks underweight” – what does that really mean? It means more room for politics and games.

Overall, I think this will help the greater population of models to not resort to extreme measures to keep their jobs. The government wants to promote healthy living – that’s fine – but I really don’t like that someone’s health can be judged by a number, legally.

What’s your opinion on this? I’d love to hear.

SOURCES:

Read more… http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/20/us-israel-models-law-idUSBRE82J0G420120320

Comments

  1. This is a great law and it is moving people in the right direction. The word ” model ” implies an example of the standard that people should look up to. Therefore a model should represent the general population and be an example of health. The industry hasn’t looked at it this way for years. They see the model as merely a clothes hanger and some people do not understand this. This law will make sure that models are healthy and represent the population. There are no overweight models even if there BMI is completely normal, so why should there there be underweight models?

  2. LawStudent says:

    hello all, I have an assignment which is based on the Israel Ban on Underweight models. I would really appreciate if somebody could post a link about where I can find the actual law as being a law student I need it to specify a few of my arguments.
    thank you :)

  3. I am way underweight by that chart, and I think this is ridiculous. It’s a number that means very little. I look and feel healthy. I try to keep my weight up, but I can’t seem to do it.
    I’d like to add that I have a really, really small frame—I’m a 4′ 11′ 00 Petite. My mother was this size until she had me. I don’t starve myself to look this way, and I have a full, moderately active life. I’m happy, I love my figure. I think it is ridiculous to ban people from modeling because they’ve been labeled unhealthy and anorexic due to a number from a very flawed system of measurement.
    My BMI is 15.4.

  4. It shouldn’t be based on the number. Period.

    I think a note from a doctor saying she/ he is healthy should be enough. Just like the ones you get for school when you want to start a sport or something. (Remember those guys?)

    I have naturally skinny friends and my mother is naturally underweight. That is why banning models just because they are underweight according to a BMI is WRONG and very unfair.

    To state that the model has been graphically changed to look thinner is definitely a good thing. I think many girls (and men) look at magazine and go, “wow, I wish my body was like that.” I think to let readers (especially the young ones) acknowledge that the models in magazines has been photo shopped to look the way he/she does will help them better understand what is REAL and what is not real. Which means not having to set high ideals for themselves.

    Eating Disorder are so much more than just what’s in a magazine or how thin the models are. Sure, it may feed the mindset of those struggling with eating disorders that being THIN= GOOD…and so forth, but for me at least, it definitely was NOT the cause of my eating disorder. Although, I cannot deny that my first diet in wanting to look thinner to look good (I was 12 at the time) triggered the start of my eating disorder. But I was emotionally going downhill around that time anyways, so yeah… Emotionally Unstable + Trying to Lose weight= ED for me…

    Anyhoo, that’s my share on this topic.

  5. I think it is good in part to alot of models not eating and dying. It is flawed yes but it is good in a sense. Alot of people also look at images of too skinny women and it starts eating disorders. wanting to look too skinny isnt healthy. Such as with Isabella Caro.

  6. Courtney B says:

    I think BMI as a whole should just be thrown out the window and never looked back on. Measuring one’s body fat is so much more accurate when it comes to an issue like this. For example, I have a BMI of about 17.3. I’m 5’8″ and 115 lbs. My body fat, however, is 20%. That is perfectly average for someone who is athletic like myself. BMI also doesn’t take into account the other side of the spectrum when it comes to lean muscle mass. A woman could have a BMI of 26, making her technically obese, but be extremely fit and muscular, thus increasing her overall weight. It’s so silly.

  7. I just wanted to comment and say that if you research this new law it states that you need to have a BMI of 18.5 or higher OR have a doctor’s note in order to model. It very well fixes the issue of girls that have a fast metabolism. So no worries:)

  8. In that case, why don’t they also outlaw models with high BMI? After all, obesity is at least as unhealthy as excessive thinness.

  9. I disagree with this all… if they want to be skinny let them… there is so much disgrace to skinny people theese days.. we are just as limitied as curvy girls… sucks when people are just so jealous.

  10. Definitely support this law! At the end of the day the modelling world is and always was a WORLD of DISCRIMINATION! If you’re under 5.7″ you can forget about ever walking the runway; also have you ever seen a supermodel with ‘average weight’? Didn’t think so. Either thin or too thin.
    Yes, BMI is just numbers, just like calories are just numbers for some, but it’s a good indicator of decent health, like calories are a good indicator of how much energy we take in; both are not exact but they go for a good average in general.

    • The difference is, the 5.7″ height requirement is imposed by the market and NOT by law. Do you really want politicians to define who is beautiful by creating weight discrimination?

      Instead, it should be up to the public to decide. Everybody is free to set up their own modeling agency or fashion magazine and use short or fat models. The problem is, there obviously is not enough demand for them.

      • Fair point. Unfortunately there isn’t much demand for average weight, not even fat, models because the standard of beauty is set by the market, not by public opinion, which is why most women strive to be thin and perhaps underweight.

        To be honest having the standard of beauty set by politicians or the market sounds just as bad the other, but politics is getting involved (or thinks that it should) because of the negative impact that commercial standards of beauty have on average women and teenagers.

        • Ideally, the market reflects the public opinion – i.e. those models that people like to see are in demand. But I agree, somehow the market and public opinion got disconnected, because most people I know don’t find too thin to be attractive.

          I understand the negative impact that you mention. At the same time, I just resent the idea of politicians regulating the beauty standards. It reeks of censorship and opens a whole can of worms. For example, are fitness and bodybuilding magazines to be banned as well, because these models’ physique is unattainable for the average person? For the same reason, should fitness competitions be banned and should exercise videos producers be forced to use out-of-shape instructors?

          I think a better solution is educating the public that there is not a single standard of beauty. People should understand that it’s up to them if they want to look like a bodybuilder, a thin model, or anything else. But there should be freedom of choice, and outlawing certain body types to me is a bad idea.

  11. I read an article about this, it said that the law was made specifically so it wouldnt leave out the people who were naturally thin, that you could get a doctors note saying you’re physically healthy. I hope this is true. Because it isnt fair for those who are to be left out because of a number.

  12. I completely agree with you. In my opinion, the best way to get around this is to make all aspiring and current models check in regularly with doctors. If any of them are diagnosed with anorexia, bulimia, or any other eating disorders, they should not be allowed to model until they have overcome their disease. I know it might be tricky to diagnose every single model; however, it would be a bigger step in the right direction.

  13. The BMI is so flawed. Where I work as a RN, my brother will soon be joining me as a RN. Our BMI’s must remain under 25 (this job also requires a fitness test) or our insurance premiums can sky rocket. This would be all and good except my brother’s BMI is 31. He has a body fat of 9%. The boy is ripped. It’s because he is a big athlete and rock climber. In order to “appeal” the BMI, a lot of things are involved including a doctor’s letter and a submersion test. It’s getting ridiculous how they base everything on a simple number. It’s not smart, at either end of the spectrum.

  14. Scarlett says:

    You said it all Cassey! I totally agree with everything you have said here, you really did just speak my mind for me.

  15. I think the whole BMI system is flawed. It just doesn’t take into account SO many things! I think it’s hard, because in some ways, I think the industry needs to be regulated, but at the same time, I don’t think it can be so black and white.

  16. I think that as far as the general public maybe judging people on numbers alone is not a good idea. HOWEVER, I do state there needs to be some sort of standard if nothing other than to get an industry that has gone crazy back on track. So if the general medical standard for underweight is under 18.5 BMI maybe they could use that as a guideline in the modeling industry. Just like if you are under 18.5 in the real world but your doctor monitors you and says you are healthy despite that then you are just fine. Maybe modeling agencies could employ a staff nutritionist and/or doctor or nurse practitioner (it’s not like they don’t have the money) and if a model starts to fall under 18.5 then they could monitor her and see if she is still healthy and if so, leave it alone. So maybe make it less of a law but more of a standard upon which to make case by case judgments depending on the body of the model. I know they would never go through all this work but I wish they would. If they hire the models for their agency and consider the model an asset to the company you would think they would want to protect that asset. As far as the photoshopped pics, that should flat out be banned. There is NO NEED at all to photoshop a pic. These girls are all beautiful in different ways however they are naturally (or they wouldn’t have been models in the first place) and we should demand that the photo and magazine editors stop this nonsense at once. The makeup, clothes, shoes, handbags, whatever they are selling should sell themselves and don’t need the model’s body photoshopped into some editor’s idea of beauty. That is the real crime here.

  17. So Cassey I have to thank you for posting this because I was getting really depressed and then I saw your blog and Bex’s (another comment referred to it). Basically it said “Stop hating your body!”=”Stop hating yourself! We don’t want you to so stop it!” This really snapped me out of it which was great because I was thinking of hurting myself. I am going to counseling for it but it is still hard so I’m really happy for the message. Even if it was about being too skinny it can still be applied to other areas of our lives where we hate ourselves and showing us that is not what we are called to do. We are called to love our bodies whether that means getting in shape, maintaining it, or gaining weight (muscle or fat) to be healthy happy people. I love you guys! <3 Steph

  18. I don’t think that the law is going to be applied that accurately, if a woman has a BMI under 18.5 and healthy(if medicine says so), I think they won’t apply the law on her.

  19. Everybody seems to agree that BMI is flawed… but all, including Cassey, are missing the important point.

    Which is, do we need this CENSORSHIP? What happened to the freedom of speech and self-expression? I myself don’t find skinny beautiful, but why should the government be allowed to make this decision for me and ban everybody who does not meet the government standard for beauty?

    I understand the excuse about not causing anxiety to girls who want to look thin like the models. But that’s what it is, a stupid excuse. Because, by that logic, media should not be allowed to present celebrities at all, to avoid causing depression and despair to the general public, who can never become celebrities themselves.

    Finally, there is no logic to this decision. If it is meant to protect the confidence of fatties by reassuring them that they are also beautiful… then how about the naturally skinny girls developing psychological and eating problems, now that they are officially considered ugly by the government?

    • +1

      The law does not make sense. It’s a mixture of propaganda and job discrimination based on physical appearance.

      Instead of picking on skinny models, if they really cared about making people healthy, they could encourage them to exercise, invest in athletic / recreating facilities, tighten food quality standards, etc.

  20. I completely agree. I think that laws like these discriminate against women who look naturally like this and a number does not represent how healthy a person is. Emphasis should not be on how skinny or overweight and penalising these but to encourage a HEALTHY weight that we can aim to become and this would then decrease the amount of photoshopping that would be needed.

  21. I would totally agree with this if it weren’t for BMI being used. People put far too much emphasis on it for a start! I’ve naturally always been thin (5 ft 5 and 105lbs) and have maintained that weight with very little to no effort since I was 16/17. According to my BMI I’m technically anorexic, something that I’m CONSTANTLY reminded of by doctors even if I only go to see them with a sore throat. However, I’m not entirely sure what else could be used to judge these models, and like it’s been mentioned above you can’t use something as arbitrary as ‘looking healthy’. Definitely agree that photoshopped pictures should be open about it though!

  22. I also think the BMI thing is flawed, I mean 2 people with exactly the same BMI can be very different (one considered thin while the other has more shape), it all depends on their height! I for instance have a BMI below 18 but I’m also 5’8ich and look a lot less thin than any model out there.
    Muscle is another problem when measuring BMI, top male bodybuilders have very high BMIs, and are obviously not obese.

  23. The new picture is photoshopped too. A guy named Omar did a ton of those about 10 years ago and they’ve been floating around ever since. http://www.2medusa.com/2008/09/photoshopping-gone-mad-skinny-on-fake.html <– that site has examples of all the ones he did.

  24. I completely agree! It is great that they want to help put a stop to this terrible trend, but it is flawed to base it soley on these numbers. Last time I checked I had a bmi around 18, and I am perfectly healthy. I eat healthy 3 meals a day and workout. I’m slim but not underweight at all. So I think it should be based on each model whether or not they look unhealthy.

  25. They need to have a letter from their doctor from three months prior saying that they are healthy and at a healthy weight. So there is more to it than just BMI. I think it’s an excellent rule personally.

  26. Just my random thoughts, I agree a number is not the best way to fix this issue but I do feel something needs to be done. I want healthy, beautiful, fit women to look at in magazines to help boost my self esteem and make me feel empowered to change my life to be like them. I don’t want to feel compelled to not eat because the model is so tiny.

    It’s sad when the fashion industry makes women think that in order to be beautiful you have to be skin and bones…I want muscles, curves, and to feel strong and bad ass not weak and emaciated. I wish younger girls had better examples to look at…I think that if they are going to use models that are that small they shouldn’t be allowed to market them towards children and teenagers.

  27. I just want to comment that, as a graphic designer, both of those pictures are photoshopped.

  28. I think BMI is screwed up all together. If you go by the BMI scale, a girl who is healthy and muscular can end up on the “overweight” or “in danger of obesity” category! Same goes the other way for a naturally thin girl. BMI only takes height and weight into account, not fat or bone structure. If they are going to have a law about it (which seems a bit extreme, the government getting involved in the fashion industry…But understandable, I suppose, since so many girls are being affected by it.) I think the body fat content percentage would be a much better number to go by, like some other bloggers have mentioned above.

  29. I think it is a good law. A girl with a BMI under the 18.5 can be healthy, but overweight girls can also be healthy, and can’t be a (normal) model either. You have to draw the border somewhere. I think that the models in magazines and on the runway should be a reflection of how “real” girls look like.

    * Sorry for my bad english, it is not my native language.

    • They are trying to do a good thing for women !!! Why would we hold them back !!! The law has flaws, but I still agree with it. If the industry can not make logical decisions on their own, well then, they should of known some thing like this would eventually happen !!!! The industry has clearly, clearly demonstrated that they need limits, and I think this is a good start.

  30. Agree. I don’t even think BMI should be used, it is beyond flawed. I know of individuals who are not accepted into certain programs (ie- firefighters) because according to their BMI they are obese, but when you look at the person they are 6’3 and muscle. I think it stops so many people from being able to purse dreams and at the same time it creates insecurity on those that are healthy but are told they’re out of shape due to their BMI.
    On the other side, it is amazing to hear that countries are taking action against the beauty industry. Now if only the states would do this!!!! I think they have by far one of the biggest influences when it comes to body image. And it would be amazing to see all the magazines fessing up to all their airbrush actions.

  31. They did it because apparently, you can promote eating disorders this way, which is impossible because an eating disorder is a mental disorder, not something you can “catch”. (check out my post on the matter: http://writingandrecovering.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/it-is-a-mental-disorder/ ) It is flawed because of that, and for what you stated above. I know people that are scary skinny but function completely normally because they are just built that way. You can’t measure people with a number. They need to be looked at and deemed whether or not they are healthy by a number of different things. BMI is not an accurate way to measure a person at all. They need to figure out a different way to decide if people are too thin for this. It needs to be too thin for that person, not by a one-size-fits-all number thing.

  32. I think that using the number is a good thing, because better safe than sorry. Yes, a girl under the 18.5 BMI may be perfectly healthy and just have a diff build, but it may be better to use that number as a cutoff because if you don’t have a concrete number and judge it qualitatively, not quantitatively, then that complicates things. Who decides who looks too thin and who looks healthy? That also just seems to open up a Pandora’s box of judgement and body critiques. With a number cut-off, you can just set a definitive rule that doesn’t leave room for debate.
    I do understand the problem with using the number though. I have a few friends who are healthy and do eat and exercise normally, but they are below the 18.5 and encounter doctors telling them they have to stop doing the exercise they enjoy or drink weight-gaining shakes. I think if you are living your life healthfully, truly, you shouldn’t have to change your lifestyle to match a medically defined number.

  33. I think it is a great step in the right direction and their intentions are there. What would be a better way to determine if someone was too thing? You gotta start somewhere right?

  34. I understand the need for a discrete cut-off point, but would a body fat percentage be a better number to use than BMI?

  35. Wow, reading trough the comments so far… there is not much more to say!

    On one hand it’s really great that finally there is a law to protect models from looking like a skeleton but I think it is even more important that they start a law about using photoshop. Like that everyone has to write next to the pic that they photoshoped it. I totaly agree with Mafalda in this point! And I’m really wondering why the “makers” of such pics like the first one photoshop it even more. How sick is that??

  36. Hey Cassey- just before I comment, wanna say I really am in love with your workouts! You are amazing. Thank you so much. <3 My body has never been the same as it is today, or my confidence.

    On the article: I think to an extent you're right, because like you said there are plenty of girls who are underweight naturally and are still very healthy, and to say they will not use girls who "look underweight" could be very differently interpreted from one person to the next.

    But in my opinion, we could argue that an overweight girl is as healthy as an underweight one. I guess what I'm saying is, I think it's great if Israel wants to promote a healthier body image, but if you're saying they should make allowances for girls who are naturally underweight but are still healthy, then it seems fair they should do the same for overweight girls who are healthy too. But that's (unfairly) not going to happen with a standard modelling agency at least. The bottom line is that whether or not a girl is healthy, modelling has a really ideal image and if they can change that ideal to a healthy one, so much the better.. It's a shame for the girls who are naturally underweight, likewise it's a shame for the girls who are naturally overweight. But if they start making allowances for girls who don't necessarily look the "epitome" of health, which is I guess the new ideal they are aiming for, say for example, someone like yourself, then almost anyone could claim they are healthy and should be allowed to model, which kind of defeats the point. Also that could lead to something I would find much worse- agencies would start judging people even more on there face as a consequence which could potentially be even more destructive and unhealthy.

    Maybe I'm wrong on this, but for the moment that's my opinion.

  37. Hi Cassey,

    I think both of the above images are photoshoped to shock people. Nevertheless it is scary to see what models on runways look like nowadays. It’s just not healthy! I think the designers should really wake up! That’s not what people wanna see!!! We wanna see healthy, fit and beautiful women!
    I’m from Germany and here we have a womens-magazine which a couple of years ago decided to use no more models for their magazine spreads, just regular women. And those women are beautiful just the way they are!! Its such a great magazine and they’re having a great success with it!

    Cassey I wanna take this chance and thank you soooo much! I discovered Pop-Pilates on youtube just a couple months ago and in the beginning I couldn’t even do 5 minutes of your workouts! Now I’m training hard every day and I’ve gotten so much better and I’m enjoying it so much!!! And my body has changed so much – OMG I have no words! I was never able to get rid of my stupid belly-fat and after just a few weeks with your videos I’m loving loving my body and even my belly!!!

    Thx and keep up the great work! You’re wonderful! :)

    Nadi

  38. I’ve seen so many similar photos of very unhealthy, underweight models. Its really sad to see such women who are blessed with naturally beautiful bodies giving into the pressure and developing eating disorders etc. The BMI should only be used as a guideline, as there are many factors that need to be considered for each individual. A precis number cannot be calculated for something like this.

    I, naturally, being a woman find myself comparing myself to beautiful women in magazines, and although I know that they arent as perfect as they appear I still feel negative about my own appearance.

    I know that so many females feel the same way and I definitley think a lot of that could be prevented with publishing realistic images. Less air brushing and photo shopping needs to be used. Women like to see real women, and so do men for that matter.

  39. I agree as well! The bmi index is just made up of numbers, so their adding in the part of where models that “look” too thin is what they should be basing it on. But really, wow, that model is a legit skeleton :( I am glad that decided to do something about this though, too many girls young and old are becoming infatuated with being skinny, not fit.

  40. Dear Cassey,
    Well first of all, I think the photo you used is a fake picture of Gisele Budchen as I don’t think she’s ever been that skinny…
    I don’t really agree with you. As a French woman, I know what it’s like to live in a culture where ‘thin is in’ and where your girlfriends deprive themselves from eating in order to fit in a bikini. I was obsessed with my weight for a very long time, as most of my girlfriends. Having children helped me to accept and love my body as it is.
    Now, the girls on magazines aren’t even naturally thin, they are photoshopped to look thinner and there isn’t a law to tell readers that such photos aren’t real. How can women relate to women who aren’t real anymore? How can teenagers understand the difference between what they see in the mirror and in magazines?
    The fashion universe can be quite unhealthy and lots of fashion designers praise ultra skinny women, so I think there needs to be laws to stop that, as I wouldn’t want my daughters to feel uncomfortable in their bodies if they don’t look like the one they see on magazines, and end up being anorexic.
    Of course there are naturally skinny people and I know girls who eat a lot and are skinny, and of course you shouldn’t be judged on your BMI (especially because there are parameters like gender, age, height etc. which don’t always make this measure very relevant).
    Recently, the UK banned the last Lancôme ads with Julia Roberts, as the picture was so obviously photoshopped she looked like she was 25. Well, I think that’s a good thing and I wish they would do that in France too.
    If we leave people like Karl Lagerfeld tell horrible things about woment like he did when he said that singer Adele is ‘talented, with a beautiful face, but too fat’, we leave such individuals rule the world and say ‘I don’t eat ‘ (sad, but true).
    Sorry about the long answer!!

  41. A step in the right direction? Yes. But you are correct, numbers should not define us.

  42. I agree. it really is not right to not allow someone to model solely based on their BMI.
    Also I must say that the photo you used is actually photoshopped. in the real photo you can’t see her ribs.

  43. I think this law will do good for the general public, not so much for the modelling community!
    I like the idea that if I ever look into a fashion magazine, I’d be able to see beautiful people with attainable bodies, it’d make me feel less crap about myself haha! But i also think it’d be good because clothes look different on really thin bodies to when theyre worn on normal sized bodies. So by being able to see how a item of clothing looks on bodies that aren’t so alien-ly different to mine would give me a realistic and truthful idea as to wether this style would look flattering on me or not!
    On the other hand, i can also understand that this law can make way for prejudisms towards body types, but then again isn’t the fashion world already full of that? It might be good for the model community to be under pressure to be healthier rather than lighter? I’m mixed about this, but generally for it!

  44. You’re right Cassey! I share the same opinion with u. The thing is that with all laws everything is vague and not really helping out anyone but end up confusing the people! At least is one step towards promoting healthy lifestyle. Wish all that can happen in other countries as well.
    Creating role models that are too thin or anorexic can cause problems to young girls that want to look more like them so that they can feel beautiful. Instantly I think of Bex’s vid about loving your body!
    All of us should be self consious and love our body with the “flaws” that we think we have! Instead of thinking of them as flaws we should referring to them the qualities of our body that makes us unique!!! :)

  45. I agree. The BMI on a whole is flawed. Some people are obese according to their BMI and couldn’t be more perfectly in proportion. I love the step that this makes towards attainable standards and better health for men and women everywhere, but it still backs up the mistaken idea that the BMI is all-important, when really it means almost nothing.

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