Vogue Portugal Facing Criticism After Depicting Mental Patient in Institution for New Cover

Vogue Portugal Facing Criticism After Depicting Mental Patient in Institution for New Cover

Vogue Portugal are sticking to their guns despite facing a backlash over their most recent cover, which features a fashion editorial depicting an institutionalized patient being cared for by nurses – an image that sits affront what they are calling the “Madness Issue.”

But now the magazine has addressed the controversy, saying their aim was to "shine a light" on the important issue, as well as to "start a discussion." A statement from the publication reads:

The cover story explores the historical context of mental health and is designed to reflect real life and authentic stories. Inside the issue features interviews and contributions from psychiatrists, sociologists, psychologists and other experts.

The cover has resulted in floods of comments on the publication’s Instagram page, with Portuguese model Sara Sampaio calling it "poor taste" and saying images such as this one ‘"should not be representing the conversation about mental health." Posting a video to her social pages, she said it looked like an "outdated mental hospital."

It’s a bittersweet moment for the model who is sat in the bathtub, who had taken to Instagram to write how the cover was a "career highlight,” and that it was extra special as the two women pictured with her are her own mother and grandmother.

Your thoughts?

Lead image by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash.

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14 Comments

Alex Yakimov's picture

Clearly mental health is a very sensitive topic. Lockdown made it even more so. May be some would think such stylistic approach is an exploitation of serious health issue for the sake of publicity and is harmful. What track record Vogue Mag had talking about sensitive issues in general? Why should't they talk about such issues and use own stylistic approach to reach their audience? What harm such stylistic interpretation intended to attract a particular audience might cause for the patients or healthcare in general, beside people involved being pressured online for doing so?

Bjarne Solvik's picture

In the end we all will be trapped in political correctness and disabled off having any opinion or approach to life and issues that does not confirm to the standard.

Alex Yakimov's picture

Standards change, so it might give us some hope, don’t you think?

Deleted Account's picture

Not all change is good. As for the image, I can't imagine a magazine like Vogue contributing anything useful to such a conversation so I'm leaning toward exploitative but don't really care that much.

Bjarne Solvik's picture

My concern is that the standard is changing into something so full of political correctness it takes away your freedom, if you live by it. I don’t. Not that there is much controversy in my life :)

Thomas McTear's picture

I find the stylistic approach quite raw and powerful. Do others not feel the same way?

Johnny Rico's picture

Right or wrong, that's a phenomenal photograph.

Cool Cat's picture

I agree... and the photo tells a story as it's supposed to do. It's the photographers job.

Luke Adams's picture

Often a big contributing factor to good art is that it’s somewhat controversial. Sad that there will probably be less and less good art because of this offended generation we find ourselves in. Think of your favourite movies, and ask yourself if there isn’t anything controversial in them? Beautiful cover. Good art.

Mike Dixon's picture

When being offended gives you power, people will always find something to be offended by.

jim hughes's picture

The game is to read online news and content, find something that you can spin into a putdown of a victimized group, then race over to Facebook and Twitter to "call it out" with a few hashtags. Get a few likes and you're a courageous leader on social justice issues.

regan albertson's picture

replicating the times when mental illnesses weren't well understood. The current narrative would replace the two caring nurses with Nurse Ratched lookalikes and an ad for big pharma's latest miracle $$$ drug and its suicide side effect warning.

Michael L. McCray's picture

Still not understood.

Michael L. McCray's picture

Vogue Portugal covers is a powerful image on a sensitive topic, critics should be expected. There is nothing wrong with this image, it has served their stated purpose. Thank you Vogue Portugal the wonderful cover and your courage in raising this issue.
In the United States and perhaps in the rest of the world the jails and the streets have replaced mental hospitals over the decades unless you have the resources. Healthcare first a foremost is a business there are a lot of stronger images Vogue Portugal could have used.