Vogue misrepresents people with disabilities in offensive ad

Recently, Brazilian Vogue published a feature stating “we are all Paralympians” in an attempt to promote the Rio Paralympic games. As if the statement wasn’t offensive enough already, they photoshopped disabilities onto able-bodied models, removing the female model’s arm and giving the male a photoshopped prosthetic leg.

This disgusting display of ignorance is a giant leap in the wrong direction in a culture that is increasingly attempting to portray diversity in advertisements. Photoshopping fake disabilities is something that cannot be accepted.

The disabled community is incredibly underrepresented on a world stage and the Paralympics are a chance for people with disabilities to showcase everything they can achieve.

Rather than just being seen as their disabilities, as the media likes to portray, the Paralympics give people with disabilities the opportunity to be seen as people beyond their physical bodies. These athletes are people who take pride in their achievements and have overcome all the perceived obstacles to compete on the world stage.

No matter the intention of this campaign for Vogue, it is extremely distasteful. People with disabilities face disproportionate levels of unemployment. To run this campaign, Vogue overlooked countless young, disabled talent in support of photoshopping able-bodied models.

I can’t think of any disabled models or actors that have recently appeared in A-list movies or magazines. However, like this example from Vogue, able-bodied people are posing as disabled characters instead.

The statement “we are all Paralympians” diminishes the countless hours of training and dedication the Paralympic athletes put into their respected disciplines. They work just as hard as the able-bodied Olympians, if not harder, to push beyond what people perceive their bodies to be able to do.

No one would ever claim that we are all Olympians. We watch the Olympics and the games are a part of our cultural identity, but in no regards are we Olympians. To treat the Paralympics and the athletes that compete any differently is discrimination. Just because these athletes are disabled doesn’t make them any less accomplished.

I found out about this issue through a friend who is disabled. Her thoughts were best summarized by her phrase “wheelchairs are not props.” I can write all I want as an able-bodied young woman, but her thoughts ring more powerful than my own. This is her life.

This is not something she can photoshop and walk away from. It’s not some fashion trend she decided to try because “we are all Paralympians” according to Vogue. She, like the Rio Paralympians, won’t let her disability stop her from pursuing her goals.

No one understands the disabled community better than people who have disabilities. Let disabled people speak for themselves. Let them represent themselves as the people they are.

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