And by Spain’s equality ministry, no less

The “beach body” has once again proved itself a concept of idiocy – though not quite in the way that culture has become accustomed to. Last week, Spain’s equality ministry (lol) paid €4,490 for an iPad painting as part of its “Summer is ours, too” campaign, encouraging fat, queer, and mature women to wear swimsuits. Only, these weren’t a figment of the artist’s imagination, but real life models and Instagram influencers – Sian Green-Lord, Nyome Nicholas-Williams, and Raissa Galvão – who saw themselves in the promotion’s DeviantArt-style rendering without having given consent. The most ghoulish aspect of the image, however, was that Green-Lord’s prosthetic leg had been edited out. 

The illustration of Green-Lord, who features in the far left of the poster, had been taken from the model’s Instagram account, where she shared photos of a girls’ holiday to Ibiza in May. Having lost her leg when she was struck by a taxi in 2013, Greene-Lord said “I don’t even know how to even explain the amount of anger that I’m feeling right now… I’m literally shaking, I’m so angry.” The campaign was billed as “as a response to fatphobia, hatred and the questioning of non-normative bodies”, but the model said it’s “beyond wrong” – “it’s one thing using my image without my permission, but it’s another thing editing my body, my body with my prosthetic leg.” The artist in question has since apologised for using the women’s likeness without approval, pledging to divvy her fee between all those involved. 

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“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,” the artist tweeted. While she was pleased to have inspired the campaign, Nicholas-Williams said she would have appreciated being asked to have been involved – a photoshoot in Spain, she added, would have been lovely. The artist has said that she only meant to underscore how inspirational these models were, but the whole project sounds like a complete mess; even the font was unlicensed. Perhaps it’s time for the body positive movement to find new frontiers beyond the beach – and ask permission to do so first.