Problems often arise when Photoshop is used to compromise the authenticity of an image. Two years ago the city of New York launched an obesity awareness campaign which featured an overweight amputee sitting on a stool, visually linking obesity with diabetes and limb loss. Controversy arose when it was revealed that the individual shown was not an amputee, and that his limb was digitally removed. The conversation instantly switched from obesity to the efficacy of Photoshopping a disability. Because of the decision to feign limb loss, any hope of making inroads towards the original cause were lost.
Yesterday another image was brought to my attention. The IPC (International Paralympic Committee) issued a promotional photo of an above elbow amputee swimmer. The poster was issued in advance of the upcoming swimming World Championships in Montreal. I was flabbergasted when I learned that what could have been an inspiring poster designed to promote a worthy event, was actually a Photoshopped image. How could the IPC condone Photoshopping a disability in order to promote their event which, ironically, celebrates differently-abled athletes? Personally, I found this poster utterly reprehensible!
I am shocked that the IPC would stoop to digitally creating a disability when they have access to gifted (and authentically disabled) athletes. Creating and utilizing a digital disability to promote an event designed to celebrate the athletic prowess of individuals with handicaps borders on the absurd. Featuring a legitimate athlete who was set to compete in the event would have been far more effective and honest.
The athletes who are competing are worthy of being celebrated, yet the IPC deemed it necessary to push the true disabilities of their athletes into the corner and out of sight in an attempt to promote their event. Sometimes it feels like our society is still operating under a 1940's mentality when handicaps and physical differences were not discussed and were certainly never seen. As an individual with an amputation and as a fan of the Paralympic games, I am disappointed that the IPC did not demonstrate the foresight and the compassion to utilize a legitimately disabled individual to promote their event.