Controversial Paralympics photo shoot leaves Vogue Brazil out on a limb

The fashion magazine posted an image to its Instagram in which it grafted Paralympians' disabled limbs onto two famous actors

BY James Dempsey 14:06 Friday 26 August 2016, 14:06 26 Aug 2016

Actors Cleo Pires and Paulo Vilhena with their new limbs [Instagram]

With the Rio Paralympic Games reportedly in serious financial trouble before they’ve even started, it looks like they’re going to need all the support that they can get. But Vogue Brasil has not gotten off to a great start, by posting a tone deaf image to its Instagram account in which the limbs of two Brazilian Paralympians have been grafted onto two celebrities with Photoshop.

The images, posted to Instagram, shows actors Cleo Pires with one of her arms modified and Paulo Vilhena missing part of one of his legs. Their limbs have been replaced by those of Renato Leite and Bruna Alexandre, two Brazilian athletes set to represent the country in volleyball and table tennis in Rio next month.

According to The Telegraph, Pires and Vilhena are official ambassadors for the Brazilian Paralympic Committee. Both of them also shared the images of the athletes whose limbs were digitally grafted onto their bodies on their social media accounts.

According to the Vogue caption, the aim of the stunt was to highlight the visibility of Brazil’s disabled athletes on a national level. The two professional models were invited to join both the Paralympic committee and front this new campaign, which is called We Are All [Paralympics].

Cleo Pires, Renato Leite, Paulo Vilhena and Bruna Alexandre posing together on set [Instagram/Vogue Brasil]

Given that the fashion magazine decided to raise awareness by disappearing the people they were trying to champion in the first place, Vogue Brasil has come in for considerable criticism. “[It’s] hard to understand why Vogue Brasil felt the need to use models who aren’t disabled in a Paralympic photoshoot,” Richard Lane, who works for the British disabilities charity Scope, told the UK version of The Huffington Post. “It’s so rare to see positive and powerful representations of disabled people in the media.”

But despite all of the criticism, both of the Paralympians whose limbs feature in the photo have added their support to the campaign.

Speaking to Buzzfeed Brazil, a spokesperson for Vogue said: “This is not a Vogue magazine campaign. It was conceived by the actors Cleo Pires, Paulo Vilhena (game ambassadors) and the Agency Africa.

Vogue, along with Editions Globo Condé Nast, only supports the initiative as well as supports any initiative that encourages attendance at the games.

Vogue respects the opinions of readers who disagreed with the campaign format, but reiterate its commitment to promote the importance of the Paralympics. We will continue to support all of the Paralympic committee initiatives that encourage attendance at the games.”

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