An ad campaign by Vogue Brazil promoting next month’s Paralympics is getting a lot of heat online after it was discovered that they had Photoshopped able-bodied actors to look like amputees.
According to Metro News, the magazine published the photos of two local soap opera stars – Cleo Pires and Paulo Vilhena – after adding amputations to their bodies.
Pires lost her right arm to Photoshop while Vilhena was given a prosthetic leg. The “disabilities” were inspired by two actual Paralympians – Bruna Alexandre and Renato Leite.
Vogue Brazil shared the photo on Instagram, with the caption “We are all Paralympians,” adding that the campaign was created to “to attract visibility to the Special Olympics and highlight the relevance of Brazilian disabled athletes in the panorama of the national sport.”
According to TheFrisky.com, the two actors are ambassadors for the Brazilian Paralympic Committee and the images were approved by the committee.
Pires shared a photo of Alexandre on her Instagram that she said inspired her photo in the campaign.
"As ambassador of the Brazilian Paralympic Committee I feel honored to represent Bruninha this campaign endorsed by the Paralympic Committee and the Brazilian Paralympic athletes," she wrote in the caption in Portuguese.
Speaking to the Huffington Post UK, a spokesperson for Vogue Brazil said the campaign was not created by the company, but instead by the actors with the publicity agency Agencia Africa.
“Vogue respects the opinions of readers who disagreed with the campaign format, but reiterates its commitment to promote the importance of Paralympic games,” the spokesperson added. “We will continue to support all of the Paralympic committee initiatives that can increase the number of attendees at the Paralympic games.”
Naturally, the photoshoot has been criticized for not using actual Paralympian athletes.
Richard Lane, group head of campaigns at disability charity Scope, told HuffPost UK that it’s “hard to understand why Vogue Brazil felt the need to use models who aren’t disabled in a Paralympic photoshoot.”
“The magazine has missed the perfect opportunity to celebrate Brazil’s talented Paralympians as sporting equals,” he said. “It’s so rare to see positive and powerful representations of disabled people in the media.”
He added: “There are one billion disabled people in the world. Let’s see disabled people’s lives properly reflected, not imitated.”
The 2016 Paralympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro from Sept. 7 through Sept. 18.