Friday, August 26, 2016

Vogue's Paralympics ad fail

By Louise Kinross

Oh dear.

I saw a tweet yesterday about how Vogue Brazil had photoshopped an amputated arm and a prosthetic leg from two Brazilian Paralympians onto fashion models as part of an ad campaign to combat low ticket sales for the Paralympics in Rio.

This struck me as bizarre and offensive.

Can you imagine an ad for Olympic athletes that features fashion model stand-ins?

What, on earth, does being an elite athlete have to do with physical appearance? Or fashion? Nothing!

While I think the idea that any of us can have a disability is a positive one, and perhaps this was the intended effect, replacing the bodies of real athletes with models sends the wrong message.

Diversity is what makes the Paralympics stand out: we watch and celebrate elite athletes with different kinds of bodies and disabilities.  

The Paralympics is one of the few times we get to see people with disabilities in mainstream media.

What message does this ad send to the child who has an amputation? That their arm is more attractive or acceptable when photoshopped onto a different body?

Other countries have produced outstanding ads to promote their Paralympic teams. The reason they work is that they're real and give the athletes the visibility they deserve.


Yes, the point here is that "It could happen to any of us, me, you, your brother your sister your child." Perhaps they could have used authentic Paralympic athletes and perhaps they tried but were not able to set it up due to time constrains, location issues or for reasons unknown to us. That said I think their hearts were in the right place to bring awareness and support the Paralympics.