Vogue Brazil has come under fire for featuring a photoshoot supposedly designed to promote the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Instead of featuring athletes competing in the tournament, the magazine featured a photoshopped image of two able-bodied soap opera actors made to appear like amputees.
The publication posted one of the images onto its Instagram, along with the caption: “We are all Paralympians.”
It added that the campaign was created “to attract visibility to the Special Olympics and highlight the relevance of Brazilian disabled athletes in the panorama of the national sport”.
The photoshoot has been criticised by disability campaigners and people on social media.
Speaking to The Huffington Post UK, Richard Lane, group head of campaigns at disability charity Scope, said 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 added.
“It’s so rare to see positive and powerful representations of disabled people in the media.
“The Paralympics is a time to challenge negative attitudes to disability.
“There are one billion disabled people in the world. Let’s see disabled people’s lives properly reflected, not imitated.”
The campaign has been equally unpopular on Twitter, with many people asking why the shoot didn’t feature people with disabilities.
The controversy comes after a recent survey by Scope found that the majority of people with disabilities (71%) believe the achievements of Paralympians have a positive impact on their everyday lives.
Around two in five (41%) people with disabilities believe media coverage of the achievements of athletes with disabilities serves to challenge society’s perceptions of what is attractive.
What’s more almost a third of disabled people (29%) said that coverage of the Paralympics gave them a greater sense of belonging in society.
Speaking to HuffPost UK, a spokesperson from Vogue Brazil’s press office said the campaign had not been created by Vogue, but by the actors in it along with the publicity agency Agência África.
They added: “Vogue respects the opinions of readers who disagreed with the campaign format, but reiterates its commitment to promote the importance of Paralympic games. We will continue to support all of the Paralympic committee initiatives that can increase the number of attendees at the Paralympic games.”
The Huffington Post UK has contacted Agência África for further comment, but has yet to hear back at the time of publication.
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