Fashion

Watch this famous fashion photographer challenge an industry

One man's determination to redefine beauty standards will blow you away.

Gal Gadot smiles and laughs at fragrance launchGal Gadot smiles and laughs at fragrance launchActress Gal Gadot is the leading model for Israeli fashion line Castro, one of the first companies in the world to not use underweight women in their ads. (Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

Israel made headlines when it became the first country in the world to ban underweight models. The person behind that movement was Adi Barkan, a famous fashion photographer and fashion icon. He sparked what became an international campaign to change beauty ideals in the notoriously rigid fashion industry.

In his powerful TEDx Talk, which you can view below, Barkan reveals why this mission was so personal for him and how he went about creating a movement to hold the fashion industry accountable.

Barkan realized that only legislation could change the situation. “There was no time to educate so many people, and the change had be forced on the industry. There was no time to waste, so many girls were dieting to death," Barkan told The Atlantic.

Working with the Israeli parliament, he helped create the first legislation of its kind. The law prevents fashion models from losing weight to the detriment of their health and wellbeing. It demonstrates the connection between the media's portrayals of people's bodies and eating disorders.

"Girls diet because they want to be like the beauty model, as presented in the advertising and branding of the fashion industry, and this model is too thin," said Barkan. "We need to define what is thin, what is too thin, and create a more varied beauty model."

Israel banned underweight models in 2012. France recently followed suit. Israel banned underweight models in 2012. France recently followed suit. (Photo: Getty)

Barkan continues to campaign globally with his RealUnreal project to help other countries adopt change and increase awareness of the fashion industry's effect on models and consumers. The RealUnreal standard seeks to ensure that brands will declare they do not use Photoshop to reduce body measurements, do not employ underweight models and create garments for the general population. Iconic Israeli fashion line Castro was one of the first companies in the world to join Barkan's movement.

Ray Segev says she decided to become a model to change society's unrealistic norms and beauty ideals. Ray Segev says she decided to become a model to change society's unrealistic norms and beauty ideals. (Photo: Ray Segev)

On the opposite side of the camera, models like Ray Segev and Ashley Graham, the first plus-size model to be featured in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, share their unique perspectives and advocate for redefining beauty ideals to help people be comfortable in their own skin.

"Under the clothes there is a person," Barkan told CNN. "They [the fashion industry] have to fit the clothes to the woman, not the woman to the clothes."

Lindsay E. Brown is the managing editor of Eco-Chick, the web’s first ethical fashion, beauty and travel site for women. She has written for Whole Living Magazine, Edible, and Cottages & Gardens. Lindsay has been featured as a fashion and beauty expert on the Veria Living Network. Lindsay holds a BS in Global Business Studies and Marketing from Manhattan College, and received the 2012 Honors Award at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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