JERUSALEM -- Told she was too fat to be a model, Danielle Segal shed a quarter of her weight and was hospitalized twice for malnutrition. Now that a new Israeli law prohibits the employment of underweight models, the 19-year-old must gain some of it back if she wants to work again.

Not that she was ever overweight. At 5-foot-7, she weighed 116 pounds to begin with. Feeling pressure to become ever thinner, she dropped another 29 pounds. The unnaturally skeletal girl weighed 88 pounds by then, or about as much as a robust preteen, and her health suffered.

The legislation passed Monday aims to put a stop to the extremes, and by extension ease the pressure on youngsters to emulate the skin-and-bones models, often resulting in dangerous eating disorders.

The new law poses a groundbreaking challenge to a fashion industry widely castigated for promoting anorexia and bulimia. Its sponsors say it could become an example for other countries grappling with the spread of the life-threatening disorders.

It's especially important in Israel, which, like other countries, is obsessed with models, whose every utterance and dalliance is fodder for large pictures and racy stories in the nation's newspapers. Supermodel Bar Refaeli is considered a national hero by many. She is not unnaturally thin.

The new law requires models to produce a medical report no older than three months at every shoot for the Israeli market, stating that they are, by World Health Organization standards, not malnourished.

The UN agency relies on the body mass index, calculated by factors of weight and height. WHO says a body mass index below 18.5 indicates malnutrition. According to that standard, a 5-foot-8 woman should weigh no less than 119 pounds.

In Israel, about 2 percent of girls between 14 and 18 have severe eating disorders, a rate similar to other developed countries, experts said.

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