Vogue Brazil Photoshopped Able-Bodied Actors To Look Like Amputees Instead Of Featuring Actual Paralympians

Fashion magazines do a lot of random things that don’t make sense. Photographers put naked models, wearing just a pair of designer heels on a horse, or cloak models in haute couture and then have them pose poolside. It’s fashion. It’s art. Don’t ask questions. Unless shit gets really weird, which is what happened over at Vogue Brazil when the magazine photoshopped able-bodied actors to look like amputees in an attempt to promote the Rio 2016 Paralympics. They definitely could have used actual Paralympians.

The people they used aren’t even models — they’re soap opera stars. It’s the weirdest thing ever, just because a real celebration of the Paralympics should have actual athletes, not some soap stars who had limbs airbrushed off.

Let’s try to be fair here. Cleo Pires and Paulo Vilhena, the two actors, are ambassadors for the Brazilian Paralympic Committee and the images were approved by the committee. The caption on Instagram says, “we are all Paralympians,” in Portuguese. The caption continues that the photos are meant to get people’s attention and “to attract visibility to the Special Olympics and highlight the relevance of Brazilian disabled athletes in the panorama of the national sport.” So in the magazine’s defense, it was supposed to sort of shock people into paying attention to the Paralympics and what they mean for the athletes.

#SomosTodosParalímpicos: para atrair visibilidade aos Jogos Paralímpicos e ressaltar a relevância dos paratletas brasileiros no panorama do esporte nacional, @cleopires_oficial e Paulo Vilhena (@vilhenap) aceitaram o convite para serem embaixadores do Comitê Paralímpico Brasileiro e estrelam a campanha Somos Todos Paralímpicos. Concebido pelos atores com o apoio do @ocpboficial e dos atletas, com direção criativa de @ccarneiro, fotografia de @andrepassos e beleza de @carolalmeidaprada, o anúncio traz Cleo na pele de @bruninha_alexandre, paratleta do tênis de mesa, e Paulo, de @renatoleite10, da categoria vôlei sentado. Os ingressos estão à venda em ingressos.rio2016.com. Vogue mostra os bastidores do shooting com o quarteto no link da bio. #voguenasparalimpiadas

A photo posted by Vogue Brasil (@voguebrasil) on

Even so, it was a pretty bad editorial choice. Richard Lane, who heads up Scope, a charity for the disabled in the United Kingdom, told The Huffington Post, “There are one billion disabled people in the world. Let’s see disabled people’s lives properly reflected, not imitated.” Lane 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.”

The Paralympics take place on from Sept. 7 to Sept. 18, and less than 15 percent of the tickets have been sold, so they could use a little hype. Although the low ticket sales could be a fluke, since the London Paralympics broke broadcast TV ratings for the games in 2012. At the time, Alexis Schäfer, the IPC’s commercial and marketing director said in a Paralympic.org press release, “To grow the international audience outside of the host market by nearly one billion in four years is a significant achievement and shows the growing global appeal of Paralympic Sport and the Paralympic Games.”

Unlike Vogue Brazil’s weird photoshop job, an ad for the Paralympics running on British TV celebrates the real spirit of the games using actual athletes:

It’s such an odd thing that no one wants to watch the Paralympics when, if anything, the dedication and skill and work it takes to overcome a disability and say, run a sprint on a prosthetic leg, is a big fucking deal. It would have been nice for Vogue to introduce some of the athletes to the world in their campaign instead of hiding them.