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Rio de Janeiro, the host of the paraolympics |© Ramon Llorensi/Flickr
Rio de Janeiro, the host of the paraolympics |© Ramon Llorensi/Flickr
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Vogue Magazine Criticized For New Paralympics Campaign

Picture of Sarah Brown
Updated: 4 January 2017
Vogue Brasil was recently hit by a wave of backlash for its most recent campaign. In an attempt to promote the Rio 2016 Paralympics, Vogue Brasil photoshopped two able-bodied models to reflect the disabilities of two Brazilian Paralympians with the strapline ‘We are all Paralympians’, causing an outcry across social media as people questioned the choice of not using disabled models.

Brazilian models and ambassadors for the Brazilian Paralympics committee Cleo Pires and Paulo Vilhana worked in a collaboration with Vogue Brasil to create a campaign to promote the upcoming games. The campaign was launched in response to slow ticket sales for the events, with currently only 20% of all tickets sold.

The image shows the two models dressed in black against a stark white background. Pires’s image features the disability of tabel tennis player Bruna Alexandre who had her right arm amputated when she was three months old. Vilhana is digitally altered to sport a prosthetic leg like sitting volleyball player Renato Leite.

However, rather than raising awareness for the Paralympics, the campaign has come under fire across social networks. Various commentators suggest that there isn’t a shortage of disabled models who would have been more appropriate to represent Alexandre and Leite. The caption ‘We are all Paralympians’ has also been heavily criticized, with Natalia Beliza from feminist website Lado M hitting back by stating that the majority of people have no idea the realities that people with disabilities face.

Vogue Brasil has defended its campaign by saying it was suggested by ambassador Pires after being inspired by Alexandre and was done in good faith and cause. Alexandre, represented by Pires, liked the campaign and posted a picture of herself with the two models and fellow Paralympian Leite. She said on her page, ‘I’ve come to clarify that I’m super proud of being a part of this campaign’, adding later on in the post, ‘I would like to emphasize that we are all equal and that’s why Cleo Pires represents me’.