While New York City was recovering from Hurricane Sandy, Brazilian model Nana Gouvêa and her husband Carlos Keyes, decided to take photos of the wreckage. However, the photos, which appear to be glamour shots of the Manhattan resident, sparked controversy online from many viewers, insisting the images were distasteful during the midst of an ongoing tragedy.
The photos, which featured Gouvêa posing on top of crushed cars, debris-covered streets and fallen trees, quickly went viral online, leading to audiences mocking the model with Facebook and Tumblr pages. The Facebook profile “Nana Gouvêa em Desastres" had more than 3,000 likes and the Tumblr page featured photoshopped images of Gouvêa in actual tragic events, including the 2011 earthquake in Japan— to name a few.
Now, Gouvêa is responding to the protest with a video discussing why she took the photos.
According to Gouvêa, she was previously contacted by a Brazilian journalist from online magazine EGO to talk about Hurricane Sandy. The journalist then allegedly asked Gouvêa to take photos “with the destruction of some places that had gotten some devastation from the hurricane as background,” to accompany the interview.
Gouvêa then went out and took photos, as well as spoke to the reporter about how she passed the time while Hurricane Sandy was occurring. Gouvêa insists that she and Keyes used their spare time together because they were unable to go out during the superstorm.
“It was like a honeymoon on that day,” says Gouvêa.
The couple was surprised to find out how “big” the story turned out, as well as the criticism they received.
“I was standing in front of broken trees, smashed cars…I was trying to report the imagery of the city around my neighborhood…also because I couldn’t go far away because the city was really blocked,” says Gouvêa. “I haven’t made any money through these pictures. There’s no reason for me to try to be famous through a devastation. This is a very bad thought. I really did not intend to do a photo shoot. I was only answering a journalist…”
Gouvêa also explains that not only does she love New York, but she has adopted America as herhome and is currently taking classes to improve her English. Almost bursting in tears, Gouvêa states she was not trying to take advantage of the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy and believes those allegations “are not fair.”
“I’m very sure that I’m a good woman and I don’t deserve to be treated like this,” said Gouvêa, later apologizing several times.
Sandy killed more than 100 people in 10 states and more than 1 million homes and businesses remain without power.
This report contains material from the Associated Press.