There is another controversy out of Brazil and this time it is only adjacently related to the Olympics. With the Paralympics struggling to sell tickets, a new marketing campaign for the games has drawn ire and criticism for some distasteful and, frankly, questionable images.
To try to draw empathy(?) and attention for the Paralympic athletes, Vogue Brazil ran an ad campaign where two Brazilian actors were photoshopped with disabilities (above). Cleo Pires was photoshopped into a photo where she was missing her right arm, to mimic Bruna Alexandre, a ping pong player who had hers amputated at three months old. Another actor was given a prosthetic right leg like Renato Leite, a sitting volleyball player.
Naturally, you can understand the confusion and anger that arose. Instead of presenting the athletes as they are and giving a platform to them to sell their own sport and their own competition, the magazine and the advertisers felt a need to essentially whitewash them and glamorize them with professional good-looking people, while hiding the real athletes. All to sell more tickets.
"There's no shortage of disabled people to take the place of spokesperson in these adverts and show society that yes, they exist and they deserve as much space in the media as us," a writer for the site Lado M told The Telegraph.
"We can all be supporters of the Paralympic movement, but it is always good to remember that the role, more than ever, is not ours."
The credit for the campaign has been given to Pires, one of the models. "We knew it would be a punch in the gut, but we were there for a good cause," Vogue Brazil's art director said, before rationalizing the decision. No one was buying tickets, he reasoned.
Pires responded to the heat on her Instagram: "We lent our image to generate visibility. And that's what we're doing. My God." She included the message under a photo of Alexandre, the athlete she was supposed to reflect.
Alexandre has been supportive of it too, and addressed it on her own Instagram page.
Here is the caption, translated using Google:
I have been clear that I am so proud to be part of this campaign that #Vogue magazine He began to publish the first pictures of this beautiful work . Our Ambassadors Paralympics Cleo Pires and Paulo Vilhena , helped to intensify and spread the campaign aiming to increase visibility to the Paralympic Movement and convene the Brazilian fans to be present at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016. I would like to emphasize that #SomosTodosIguais so Cleo Pires is me . In the coming days , you will have full access campaign . #VemComAGenteBrasil And hope to count with all the Brazilian fans in the arenas so twisting, vibrating , singing and celebrating with us !