EACH day has brought a further twist to the disastrous campaign launched by Spain’s Equality Ministry last week to promote body positivity on the beach.
It began with accusations that the campaign poster, which showed five different women enjoying the beach with the slogan ‘the beach is for all of us’ was ‘patronising’ and a waste of public funds.
It has now escalated to a scandal after it emerged that the campaign designed to encourage people to ‘accept all bodies’ used images of an amputee and a cancer survivor but then edited out the injuries they themselves had chosen to highlight.
The artist depicted a topless older woman bearing a mastectomy scar, a woman showing unshaved armpits and hairy legs and curvy woman in bikinis in an apparent bid to encourage women to go to the beach and enjoy themselves regardless of how they look.
However, the campaign, the brainchild of Spain’s Institute of Women as part of the Equality Ministry, has spectacularly backfired after it emerged the images were inspired by real women who hadn’t given their permission to appear in the campaign.
Even worse, two of the women recognisable in the photos appeared to have had their bodies edited, including one who had a real leg added to replaced her prosthetic one.
British model Sian Green-Lord, 32, whose left leg was amputated after she was hit by a taxi in 2013, said she only found out about the campaign when friends messaged her about it and then recognised herself as the seated woman on the left.
The image appears to be a copy taken from a photo posted on Instagram but the artist has drawn in a real leg and added hair to it as well as to the armpit.
“I don’t know how to even explain the amount of anger that I’m feeling right now,” she said in a video posted on Instagram on Friday. “There’s one thing using my image without my permission. But there’s another thing editing my body.”
“I literally don’t even know what to say but it’s beyond wrong,” Green-Lord added.
It came the day after British curvy model , Nyome Nicholas-Williams, from London, recognised herself in the image and complained that she had been used in the poster without permission.
“So I’ve just been sent this…my image is being used by the Spanish government in a campaign but they’ve not used to ask my image or likeness! Great idea but poor execution! Ask to use my image,” wrote Nyome on her Instagram account.
Then over the weekend it emerged that the image of an older woman with her right breast removed appeared to be a composite of two images taken by renowned photographer Ami Barwell from a series of photos taken of breast cancer survivors.
The image in the Spanish campaign poster appears to be the face of Juliet FitzPatrick, who was photographed after a double mastectomy but with the body of another woman who only had one breast removed.
“I think that the person who created the art has gone through my gallery and pieced them together,” Barwell told the BBC.
While FitzPatrick slammed the campaign as ‘very shoddy work’ and has compained to the Institute of Women about the issue.
On Thursday, the campaign’s creator, Arte Mapache, issued an apology for using the images without permission but has since gone silent.
“Given the – justified – controversy over the image rights in the illustration, I have decided that the best way to make amends for the damages that may have resulted from my actions is to share out the money I received for the work and give equal parts to the people in the poster,” said the artist who goes by the name ArteMapache and who was paid €4,490 for designing the poster.
“I hope to be able to solve all this as soon as possible, I accept my mistakes and that is why I am now trying to repair the damage caused,” she added.
The other woman who served as ‘inspiration’ for the two other images included in the poster has been identified as a Brazilian plus size model Raissa Galvão.
Spain’s Equality Ministry has yet to comment on the controversy but has removed all posts and references to the campaign from its social media account.
But in an apology issued on Monday, Spain’s Institute of Women said: “In relation to the poster ‘Summer is also ours’, we want to clarify that at no time were we aware that they were real models. We are resolving this with the author and we are going to contact the models to resolve this issue. We apologize for the damage caused.”