Third woman complains at use of her image in Spanish ‘beach

Spain has apologised after a third British woman complained that doctored images of her were used without permission in a widely criticised “beach body” campaign.

The women’s institute, part of Spain’s equality ministry, has emailed all three models to “sincerely apologise” for a poster that was supposed to encourage women of all shapes and sizes to be proud of their bodies.

Instead, the institute and Arte Mapache, the artist who created the poster, prompted anger from the women featured because their images were used without permission and in two cases were significantly altered.

Juliet Fitzpatrick, a cancer survivor, became the third woman to complain about the poster since it appeared last week, saying the image created “a bit of a Frankenstein” by superimposing a photographic portrait of her face on the body of another woman who appears to have had a mastectomy.

Fitzpatrick, whose face appears on a standing body on the left of the beach poster, had two mastectomies, one in March 2017 and another in November 2018 and has since campaigned about the visibility of women who have had breasts removed.

Juliet Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick, who showed her scars as part of a project called Defiance in 2019, said that for her image to be ‘used and chopped up’ was unacceptable. Photograph: Ami Barwell/PA Wire

Speaking to the Guardian she said: “The face is reminiscent of me, but that’s not my body. I’ve got no breasts, and this one has got one breast. The thought of my face being on a body of a woman with one breast is quite upsetting.”

The institute apologised to Fitzpatrick, as well as to Sian Green-Lord, who was left shaking with anger after the poster showed her image with her prosthetic leg edited out, and to Nyome Nicholas-Williams, the first of the three models to complain that her image had been used without consent.

The email said: “We did not know that images of real women had been used. We sincerely apologise for any damages that may have been caused to you. The aim of our campaign is to recognise body diversity in all its dimensions, and we will be glad to collaborate with you in any related action.”

In a statement the institute added: “The institute wants to clarify that at no time was it aware that the women who appear in the images were real people. The work contracted was the elaboration of an illustration, without the use of models. The institute, as an injured party, have contacted the models to clarify the situation, and are waiting for the illustrator and the models to reach an agreement.”

Mapache apologised last week for using images of women without permission. But she has yet to issue personal apologies to the women involved.

Fitzpatrick said: “I’ve done a lot of campaigning anyway about women’s choice after mastectomy and raising the visibility of women who have had a mastectomy and choose to stay flat, whether that’s one breast or no breast.”

“I’m cross that they’ve used my image without asking because all the work that I’ve done in other campaigns has been so watertight on permissions. For this to be used and chopped up, is just not acceptable.

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She added: “I worked on a Dove campaign with Getty Images, which was specifically against digital distortion of images. This person hasn’t learned anything from that at all. I think it totally invalidates the whole campaign.”

Fitzpatrick, who has been in touch with Green-Lord and Nicholas-Williams since the image appeared, said she would consider posing for an accurate version of the image in the poster.

She said: “That’s not a bad idea. I think Nyome may have said, ‘I’d be very happy to come to Spain, perhaps with the others, and recreate this thing’, but that might have been a throwaway remark.”

She added: “The controversy has definitely highlighted the need for body diversity and body positivity.”