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Medicine Science

Israel Passes Photoshop Law To Combat Anorexia 488

Posted by samzenpus
from the bigger-model dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Atlantic reports that the Israeli parliament has passed legislation that prohibits fashion media and advertising with models who fall below the World Health Organization's standard for malnutrition banning underweight models as determined by Body Mass Index. The new law also stipulates that any ad which uses airbrushing, computer editing, or any other form of Photoshop editing to create a slimmer model must clearly state that fact. Advertising campaigns created outside of Israel must comply with the legislation's standards in order to appear in Israel. 'I realized that only legislation can change the situation,' says Rachel Adato, an Israeli parliament member with a background in medicine. 'There was no time to educate so many people, and the change had be forced on the industry. There was no time to waste, so many girls were dieting to death.' The measure has been controversial within Israel for raising the question of where free speech bumps up against the fashion industry's responsibility — and its possible harm — to its customers' psychological well-being. Donald Downs, a professor at the University of Wisconsin and an expert on the First Amendment, says that it would be very tough to pass something like Israel's law in the US Congress. 'In the US, it would be hard to justify this type of law on either legal or normative policy grounds,' says Downs. 'The Israeli law is paternalistic in that it prohibits something because of the effect it might have on others in the longer term.'"
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Israel Passes Photoshop Law To Combat Anorexia

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  • by jenningsthecat (1525947) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:07PM (#39946217)
    Why not? The government sees fit to utterly destroy Joe Public's privacy in the name of 'combatting terrorism', but they won't put a kink in the advertising industry's portrayal of an unobtainable ideal as a factual status quo? Who's running the US anyway? Oh, wait, silly me...
    • by dpilot (134227) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:13PM (#39946289) Homepage Journal

      It's not just *mostly* unattainable, it's unwise to even try, much less to achieve.

      Minor pet peeve of mine... Between anorectic fashion models and overweight "accept me as I am" reactions to the fashion models, the "sensible middle" has been lost.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        the "sensible middle" has been lost
         
        I blame the two party system.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          the "sensible middle" has been lost

          I blame the two party system.

          And you thought the skinny donkey and fat elephant were just metaphorical mascots...

      • No, we're here, we just sensibly realize that trying to convince either side of anything is futile.

  • by swb (14022) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:09PM (#39946233)

    Those blonde shiksa with the skinny waists and the big boobs, Rachel, I can't keep my Baruch's eyes from wandering!

    • Baruch can't take his eyes off Bar Rafaeli's new underwear ad.
      Bar Rafaeli, btw, is a good 5 lbs. above the 18.5 BMI cutoff adopted by the law.
      Also, the law was passed two months ago.
  • Why 1st ammendment? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by elsurexiste (1758620) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:12PM (#39946279) Journal

    I've seen a paper about it: the most significant contributor to anorexia is social context, specially advertising. The fashion industry is, therefore, responsible for what they put on ads. I fail to see what's the issue here: it's common knowledge that "free speech" doesn't mean "free to say whatever you want". If they put an ad with underweight, photoshopped models, then they are harming everyone who's watching, in a medical sense, and must refrain from doing so.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Prune (557140)

      Huh? It's a matter of personal responsibility. You shouldn't be relying on the government to tell you what's good or bad for you; that's trying to absolve oneself of responsibility for their own life. That some people lack self control in resisting external influences, real or perceived, is unfortunate but it does not justify infringing others' freedoms. The government being your nanny is not a right, whereas freedom is.

      • by cbope (130292)

        How the fuck is an underweight, photoshopped model in a fashion ad, being called out for what it is, in any way infringing your rights? Jesus Fucking Christ. Go back under your Libertarian rock or wherever else you reside.

        Clearly, the fashion industry still struggles to self-regulate itself and needs regulation to protect society from raising whole generations of young people who are obsessed with how skinny they are. Many models are already severely underweight, and photoshopping just makes the situation w

    • by excelsior_gr (969383) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:49PM (#39946809)

      "free speech" doesn't mean "free to say whatever you want"

      You bet your bottom it does. And quite sly of you to say that your above opinion is "common knowledge". Having said that, I will acknowledge that there are rules that limit such freedoms, but only to protect other freedoms. Every time a new rule is put in place, careful thought is necessary in order to prevent abuse. I, for one, don't see a good enough reason for a rule in this case, so I guess I am against it, although I believe that our artificial world is seriously lacking in realism sometimes. But this is the tragedy of trying to keep such freedoms: most of the time you end up defending scum.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:13PM (#39946281)

    Back in the glory days of super models a la Cindy Crawford and Tyra Banks, from what CC said the typical size for a model was 6. Now, they're 0s and 2s. Some of them are downright repulsive. There's a pretty nasty pic of Gisele Bunchken post-pregnancy and it looks like she was trying to starve off the weight. Might as well drape the clothes over a wire hanger if that's what they're aiming for.

    • by Fned (43219)

      Might as well drape the clothes over a wire hanger if that's what they're aiming for.

      That is pretty much what they're aiming for, yeah. But they need something to show off the makeup and shoes, too.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Seems to me there are different kids of models - fashion runway models are living hangers who design their bodies to show off clothing and not the body itself, vs. curvy pinup types (such as Crawford) whose bodies are the main attraction and the clothes just preserve a little bit of mystery.
    • by swb (14022)

      Women's fashion is designed to appeal to women, not to men, so whether you or I find any of the current crop of concentration camp victims posing as models attractive or not is rather pointless to the fashion industry.

      Ironically, women as a group are as much a victim of the current obesity epidemic as men are. I find it curious that the rise of waifish, anorexically thin models parallels the so-called obesity epidemic. It almost seems like the heavier women get, the more the fashion industry taunts them w

      • by lgw (121541)

        The so-called fashion industry I think also has also gone kind of off the deep end with an aesthetic that, frankly, seems to turn women into prepubescent girls, with so much emphasis being put on small size and slimness to point of lacking any secondary sex characteristics.

        Fashion is certainly an industry - IIRC 2 of the 10 richest people run fashion-related companies. But if you think that the desire here is for prepubescent girls, you're really out of touch with designers ...

    • by k6mfw (1182893)

      Might as well drape the clothes over a wire hanger if that's what they're aiming for.

      That is ***exactly*** what they are aiming for. Fashion design is hard, getting your designs in a show is harder. Then gotta find a model to walk the runway to show off the dress. If all your models are skinny stick women then you don't have to deal with design variables of a more fuller figure gal. There was a time when acceptable sizes more than a 6, and dress design was more challenging considering way back designers worked with fitted gowns. You have to balance the woman's bust, waist, hips, torso leng

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:13PM (#39946295)

    They are no more "human" and entitled to human rights, then this building I'm sitting in. The people inside the building have a right to free speech, but not the building itself.

    • by Prune (557140)
      >The people inside the building have a right to free speech, but not the building itself.
      Philosophically, this argument is not on solid ground, as continuing in the same line of regress to individual constituents, your argument goes to:
      The neurons inside the brain have a right to free thought, but not the brain itself. The choice of the level at which you end the regress is arbitrary.
      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        Except there is no more regression smaller than the body nature has given you. The whole of that body is yours and yours alone, and you have the right to use it in aggregate to think a thought, to speak it, or write it.

      • by sjames (1099)

        You mean other than the big gaping hole in your argument where neutrons are not and never have been the thing rights vest in?

  • by InvisibleClergy (1430277) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:16PM (#39946339)

    'The Israeli law is paternalistic in that it prohibits something because of the effect it might have on others in the longer term.'

    Isn't this the reason we have warnings on boxes of cigarettes?

  • US Law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:17PM (#39946367)

    'In the US, it would be hard to justify this type of law on either legal or normative policy grounds,' says Downs. 'The Israeli law is paternalistic in that it prohibits something because of the effect it might have on others in the longer term.'"

    The US already has a law that "paternalistic in that it prohibits something because of the effect it might have on others in the longer term". It is the FDA law that prohibits unsubstantiated medical claims because it might cause people to ignore treatments that actually work. The issue of under weight and Photoshoped images is that they cause people to attempt to attain that standard and cause health issues. This has been proven to happen.

    • Much of it could be covered under "truth in advertising" laws already on the books. The part prohibiting models below the WHO minimum BMI might be tougher.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:18PM (#39946387) Journal
    These 'photoshop' regulations and proposals generally require some sort of written disclaimer if a model has been photoshopped. However, that seems like a very questionable assumption about how this stuff works...

    Does anybody seriously suspect that advertisements prove compelling because we are deceived by them in some trivial 'I believe that this advertisement is a representative depiction of reality." sense that could be refuted simply by a textual disclaimer?

    The idea that this is an information problem, caused by people just not knowing certain facts, seems about as naive(or deliberately toothless) as believing that you can make somebody stop gambling or buying lottery tickets with a dose of stats 101... It's nonsense. Do people advance these proposals because they actually do believe that? Or do they submit them because the alternative of banning photoshopping is just too dire; but Something Must Be Done?
    • These 'photoshop' regulations and proposals generally require some sort of written disclaimer if a model has been photoshopped. However, that seems like a very questionable assumption about how this stuff works...

      Does anybody seriously suspect that advertisements prove compelling because we are deceived by them in some trivial 'I believe that this advertisement is a representative depiction of reality." sense that could be refuted simply by a textual disclaimer?

      Refuted? No, because that's a rational mechani

  • Hmmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by b0bby (201198) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:22PM (#39946421) Homepage

    I can't readily find any data just for Israel, but I find the law's author's assertion that "We also know that the first cause of death in the age group of 15-24 is anorexia" to be highly suspect. In the US, 46% of deaths ages 15-24 are accidents (33% motor vehicles), then there's homicide, suicide, cancer & other illnesses. Anorexia is nowhere near the top as a cause of death. Israelis have cars and murders and cancer just like Americans (ok, probably less cars & murders, but still); I find it hard to believe that their stats are terribly different.
    The article itself says that mortality rates are 4% for anorexia, which is bad, but surely all the 10% with eating disorders she cites don't have anorexia?

  • I am very pro first amendment, but the idea of disclaimers on impossibly obtainable body proportions sounds as good as those white rectangles on the cigarette boxes. Women, and to a lesser, but increasing amount, men, are getting severely programmed by all the fake crap we do to our mass media people of fiction. I don't know if this is an American thing, or not even a thing at all, maybe I'm just out in left field here, maybe it's generational, I have no pattern - point I am making is that lots of women seem really put off by their body image, and they dont care that members of the appropriate gender think they look fine, or great, or even perfect. They just want to drop 30% of their body weight, to anorexic levels, stab their fellow with a rib, I dunno what the end goal is man, I'm just sick of cute girls crabbing about a little belly or having real thighs. So sick of it. This is probably my most ranty, less focused slashdot post in a long while, so I'm sorry about that. It's super frustrating to tell someone they look really beautiful and have them gaze off into the distance, miserable they aren't a jpeg and unwilling to ever embrace themselves or enjoy life until that day. We should all be extremely grateful that there's no great way to apply these photoshop techniques to moving images, yet. We'll be even worse off when that happens.

  • Of course. Ban something because someone might get offended by it/take it seriously. I honestly don't want to ban/censor something just because it might make a minuscule portion of the population want to do something harmful.

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      Of course. Ban something because someone might get offended by it/take it seriously. I honestly don't want to ban/censor something just because it might make a minuscule portion of the population want to do something harmful.

      Anorexia is more than a minuscule portion of the population. But, I would be okay with the ads if they had a warning box like cigarettes that said: "Warning! The models portrayed in this advertisement are at an unhealthy, non-life sustaining weight. The company selling the product chose to use unhealthy models to try and manipulate you into thinking you must be unhealthy to be acceptable, too. The World Health Organization believes that people should strive to maintain a healthy weight for their height an

  • This kind of thinking, laws that favor society as a whole over the individual reminds me of the zeroth law of robotics.

  • Woodstock "gimp!ing" the image be legal?

  • Whereas in the US (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:56PM (#39946915)

    'In the US, it would be hard to justify this type of law on either legal or normative policy grounds,' says Downs. 'The Israeli law is paternalistic in that it prohibits something because of the effect it might have on others in the longer term.'"

    Whereas in the US laws are passed on the effect they may have on contributors to those who are passing them.

  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:56PM (#39946917) Homepage Journal

    The new law also stipulates that any ad which uses airbrushing, computer editing, or any other form of Photoshop editing to create a slimmer model must clearly state that fact.

    I'm pretty libertarian, but I'm 100% OK with that requirement by itself. Labeling laws help consumers make informed decisions about their purchases, which is a basic requirement of a free market. For example, I fully support a store's right to sell ground beef containing "pink slime" as long as it's clearly labeled as such. Along those lines, let Israel require companies to state that their images do not depict genuine humans. I'd like to be able to show my daughter that I'm not just making this stuff up, that models in magazines really don't look like that in real life and aren't a reasonable standard to judge yourself by.

    • by Nimey (114278)

      Glad to see you say so.

      What I don't get are the libertarians who think that requiring companies to give factual information is somehow an unconstitutional overreach.

  • Advertising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scot4875 (542869) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:57PM (#39946929) Homepage

    Advertising is not free speech. We already have tons of laws about what can be said in advertisements. We have entire categories of products banned from advertising via various forms of media.

    And, besides that, fuck push advertisers. They don't inform. They don't help. They play upon human psychology and insecurity to make people feel inferior if they don't have The Product. They try to associate themselves with warm, fuzzy feelings to make people feel good about The Product. They do not operate on a rational level. The sooner we're rid of them entirely the better.

    --Jeremy

  • This is the information age. Maybe we should let people who can't effectively process information just die out.

  • ..is not at all opposed to U.S. law saying that advertisments with edited or modified depictions of models should dislose that fact, and plainly enough to be easily seen and understood.

    The fashion industry pretty much depends on peddling fantasy, from the fantasy that what you wear will improve your life in any way, from the superficial to the profound, and shouldn't be too offended that we ask them to admit that.

    Of course they won't like it, since that may break the spell, but hey - you abuse the magic, it

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:01PM (#39946981)

    This might not be the typical Slashdot comment. I post it anyway because anorexia was part of my live for many years.

    My daughter has had anorexia. As a dad I watched my daughter identify herself with wrong and manipulated social standards (mainly fashion / beauty magazines) For her the images of her idols were reality. Nothing could change her mind. Over a period of 2-3 years she gradually slided down into anorexia. As a parent we tried to help and we sought professional help but mostly in vain. She only became more careful with exposing her 'behavior'. Unfortunately the switch only came after she reached 81.5 pounds (37kg) and was hospitalized for over 8 weeks. Specialists say that a few pounds less and she would not have survived it .

    How do you explain to an 15 year old that everything she reads about her idols is manipulated / orchestrated? Warning messages in beauty and fashion magazines seem like a good effort to me. I consider myself liberal, normally I am against (government) control and over legislation. Normally I would immediately condemn such a legislation. But I also don't want any parent to experience what we experienced. Don't make the mistake that it can not happen to you. We are a normal family, no family history of drugs or mental disorders. We are realistic, we all enjoyed higher education. And still anorexia was a harsh reality for us.

    Lucky my daughter got better. She is now back on a 'normal weight' but her fight is far from over. >5 years after she is still selective in what she eats, she still counts her calorie intake. But she can now place what happened to her and detect warning signals herself. Next September she will start her final year at university.

  • Free Speech (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tom (822) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:05PM (#39947053) Homepage Journal

    There should be no Free Speech for non-humans. A corporation does not have any political or human rights necessities for Free Speech because a) all the humans that make up the corporation already have that right and b) it isn't human, so human rights don't apply.

    I understand the line needs to be defined and corporations will circumvent the issue by paying people to make their speech for them - but the law is pretty good at wiping the floor with people too obviously circumventing it.

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