According to The Christian Science Monitor, this is a celebratory week for Mr. Barkan, as a new law championed by the fashion giant took effect Jan. 1, banning the use of underweight models in local ads and on the catwalk. Its aim is to help curb a rise in eating disorders among those in the fashion industry and the general public.
Daria Keller, one of Barkan’s star models, came to the Simply-U agency from an agency where she says they tried to convince her that her “fullness” would stand in the way of her career. Barkan says she has the perfect measurements. Today, she smiles into the camera with natural confidence.
The new law, known as the “photoshop law,” requires models to present their employers with a current doctor’s note confirming that they meet a minimum body mass index (BMI) – a calculation of weight to height proportion – of 18.5, which is considered the lowest threshold for a healthy weight.
Advertisements featuring models who are “photoshopped” or otherwise digitally altered to make them appear thinner must be clearly marked as manipulated images.
In 2007, when a model, a girl named Hila Elmalich who was diagnosed with anorexia, died in his arms at the hospital, he was spurred to greater action – campaigning for legislation that would help suppress the rising trend of underweight models.
“We went out on the balcony and she started to smoke a cigarette. She had a heart attack, and fell down upon me. Right then, I took an oath that I would not give up until I pass this law,” Barkan says.
His campaign to raise awareness of anorexia, which he had initiated three years earlier with the coordination of Ms. Adato, the Knesset member, gained momentum, despite the fact that illness remained relatively unacknowledged in Israel.
In March 2012 the law was finally pushed through the Knesset.