“When I was 16, I ate only an apple for three full days, but now I want to stay as Daria,” says Ms. Keller, who has been modeling since that age.
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.
Barkan says that he has always seen the campaign to promote healthy body images as a matter of life and death.
When a 15-year-old girl named Katy came to him in 1997 for help in finding modeling jobs, he instead immediately brought her to the hospital, where he sat with her every night to make sure she ate. Shortly after Katy was released from the hospital, Barkan appeared as a guest on a morning television show. The host said to Barkan, "I want to show you something, a girl whose life you saved," and Katy appeared on stage to tell her story and express her gratitude, Barkan recalls.
After his television appearance, Barkan received 174 phone calls from women pleading “Help me, I’m going to die,” he recalls.
“I saw them all – children, women – everybody wanting to be good-looking. When I asked them, 'What does it mean?' they said, 'The girls that you shoot.' Then I understood that we are the problem,” Barkan says.