Monday, March 05, 2012

Forget Iran. Skinny models are the strategic threat to Israel.

In Israel, maybe you can't be too rich, but you can be too thin. That is, if you want to work as a model -- apparently this only applies to females (sexism!).

"Knesset to vote on bill banning underweight fashion models," says the headline in the Jerusalem Post. Contrary to rumor, it is not titled the "Oy Vay, What's the Matter, You Don't Like Your Mama's Cooking?" Bill.
Should the bill pass its final votes, models with a Body Mass Index below 18.5 will not be able to appear in advertisements. ... The bill is meant to stop the presentation of too-thin fashion models as a physical ideal for young girls who are at risk of anorexia and bulimia.
At risk! At risk! At risk! I thought maybe Israelis who've lived with intifada bombings might be a little tougher than we soggy Americans, but apparently they too have caught the "at risk" obsession. For fuck's sake, we're all "at risk" for something every day of our lives. Too fat. Too thin. High blood sugar. Low blood sugar. Mania. Depression. Murder. Suicide. You could pass 50 new laws a day, 365 days a year, and there'd still be human actions that might seduce the "at risk" population into a lot of bother.

But, the legislative busybody protests, there are serious risks besides nuclear war. Anorexia causes suffering!

It does, but so does hyperlegislation. A society that tries to solve every ill through regulation infantilizes its people, as deadly in the long run as another entity intifada-izing the people. They get out of the habit of taking care of themselves -- that's the government's job. At the same time, the legal code devolves from a safety net to a trap that can be pulled tight any time the authorities feel like it. With a galaxy of laws on the books, it's impossible not to break some: the only question is when a functionary with a badge or a desk will decide to enforce them against you. Paradoxically, a country with too many laws is no longer a government of laws but of men.
[A bill sponsor] said that the fashion industry is using a disease to earn money, and they are responsible for encouraging teens for becoming anorexic. He called overly thin models a “social and strategic threat,” whose removal will save millions of shekels in medical bills.
Teenagers are without exception mixed up, over-impressionable, foolish. That's the definition of teens. Will it help to make sure they never see a bad example of anything? Perish the thought that society's guidance should teach them to develop will power and independence from group norms. No, pass laws to make jolly sure nothing and no one is there to influence them. 

You can damn near stamp out personal responsibility, but it ain't over till the lady with the correct body mass index sings.


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