skeletons on the runway not healthy BMI over 18.5Dear Kid,

A new law went into effect in Israel this past January. The law bans models with a BMI under 18.5 from runway shows, ads, and photo shoots.

In Israel, the leading cause of death in 15-24 year old girls is anorexia. This in a country where girls serve in the military and where cities and shopping centers are bombed on a semi-regular basis.

According to an interview I saw, 15% of Israeli girls will develop an eating disorder.

No one admits (at least publicly) that having girls die to try to meet some idiots idea of ideal beauty is a good thing. Yet models are regularly told to lose 5 kilos (about 10 pounds) when they don’t have an ounce of fat anywhere on them.

Other countries have passed similar laws. Whether any of them will be enforced remains to be seen.

To be clear, it’s not that these girls have some sort of super metabolism that allows them to burn calories at a super human rate. Nor is it that they are athletic and can eat everything in sight and still burn it off. (A girl with an athletic build would generally not be hired.) These girls aren’t eating. Most of them are doing cocaine and not eating (a well-known recipe for remaining healthy). Then they are draped in clothes, caked with enough makeup to obscure their grayish faces, and sent down the runway.

In the 1980s, there was a term for rich women who were ultra-thin: x-rays. It was not really a kind phrase (although it was often said with a kind of envy—but we were idiots about a lot of things back in the 80s).

The only fashionista who can really carry off the look (imho) is Cruella de Ville—and look what happened to her.

There is a modeling agency in Israel founded by a fashion photographer who has made it his mission to try to save lives by promoting a healthier physique. The girls in his agency are gorgeous, tall, photogenic, and thin—but they don’t look like skeletons with clothes.

College is a great time to continue figuring out who you are. It is a time to try new things, meet new people, experience different cultures, decide whether you are going to use the word “pop” or “soda.” It is also a time when many people try hard, very hard, to fit into something they aren’t. Many people (more girls than boys) will develop eating disorders.

To be clear: Eating disorders can wreck a person’s body for the rest of their lives. Eating disorders can play havoc with a person’s brain. Eating disorders can kill.

If someone isn’t hungry at lunch one day, that’s no big deal. But if you suspect someone might have an eating disorder, please, please, please say something to someone who can get them some help.

You’re a great kid—lend a hand to someone who needs it. They will thank you.

Love, Mom