Spain's very offensive beach poster and a suggestion for how the Equality Minister might repair the damage

Analysis: In theory, photoshopping hairy legs onto a woman with a prosthetic leg in real life or adding a breast back onto a woman who suffered a double mastectomy cannot be remedied, but the Minister is responsible for Spain's national image abroad.
By Matthew Bennett
Jul 31, 2022, 9:05 pm
Published: Jul 31, 2022, 7:43 pm

The Spanish Equality Ministry, led by Irene Montero (Podemos), has achieved a notorious result in the field of governmental stupidity this week, with thoroughly negative implications for that idea known as Brand Spain and a lack of oversight that will likely end up in the courts and could easily cost the Spanish taxpayer at least several tens if not hundreds of thousands of euros in compensation to the women it has managed to egregiously offend in an instant.

"I think that my face may have been used & superimposed onto the woman with one breast", wrote Juliet Fitzpatrick on her Twitter account: "Can you tell me what images were used to make this woman. I have no breasts & am unhappy if my face has been put on a body with one. And furious if the image has been used without consent".

"A Photograph from my 'Mastectomy' photo series has also been stolen and used in this Spanish Government 'ad' in a derogatory manner", wrote photographer Ami Barwell: "This Photograph is Strictly COPYRIGHTED and I did not grant @InstMujeres @ArteMapacheArt permission for usage".

"I don't even know how to explain the amount of anger I'm feeling right now", said Sian Lord in an Instagram video comment: "the Spanish goverment using my image on a body positivity campaign but they have edited out my prosthetic leg. I'm literally shaking. I'm so angry".

Nyome Nicholas-Williams told the BBC that she thought it was "rude and disrespectful" for the Spanish government to have taken her photo from Instagram, without telling her, to use in the poster: "I'm annoyed because if they'd asked me in the beginning, I could have made a decision, I probably would have said yes".

The Spanish Equality Ministry's subcontracted designer admitted on Twitter that she had used the women's images without consent for the beach poster and further admitted that the typeface has also been used without the corresponding licence. She described feeling "inspired" by the images of the models for her poster. The Institute for Women, an Equality Ministry organisation, tweeted an apology and said it had not known the images used "were of real models". So far there has been no statement from the Minister, nor has she held a press conference on the matter.

It is difficult to imagine a more stupid way of launching a national ad campaign, which had begun to go viral globally for the right reasons but quickly went even more viral once the real story began to come out, while offending the very women they wanted to defend or promote, and to do so in such a horribly offensive personal manner against some women who are already very bravely championing the cause at the centre of the campaign.

Who on earth thinks it's a good idea first to steal all of the photos but then to photoshop an actual cancer survivor's face onto another woman's body, giving her a breast back, and also to photoshop out the prosthetic leg of another lady while adding back a pair of hairy legs and throwing in some hairy armpits to boot? Irene Montero's Spanish Equality Ministry did.

Now the damage has been done, and notwithstanding their absolutely justified recourse to justice for an attack on their honour and image in Spanish courts, the Minister could perhaps still save the campaign by not only paying them handsomely for the damage already done, and apologising grovellingly and in a repeated manner but also by inviting them all to come to Spain with their partners or friends and have fun enjoying the beaches together. A month-long tour of the best beaches the Kingdom has to offer, paid for by the Ministry. The real women, with their real bodies, not the photoshopped versions, on real Spanish beaches telling real stories to other real people, reporters and all of their social media followers. And of course paying them handsomely for that effort too.

Who knows if they would accept but perhaps like that the Minister could dig her ministry out of the huge messy hole it has just dug for itself and repair Spain's reputation before the world.

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