Culture

'Vogue' Portugal Pulls Controversial Mental Health Cover Following Backlash

“On such an important issue such as mental health we cannot be divided.”

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'Vogue' Portugal Pulls Controversial Mental Health Cover Following Backlash

“On such an important issue such as mental health we cannot be divided.”

Earlier this month Vogue Portugal published a series of four covers representing its new “Madness Issue,” and one of the covers sparked immediate backlash after featuring a model in what looks like a mental hospital. People were quick to point out the problematic nature of the cover, arguing that the imagery was not only insensitive and out-of-touch, but also incredibly harmful to the current mental health conversation.

Now, the magazine has decided to pull the new cover and has responded with a statement on Instagram. “On such an important issue such as mental health we cannot be divided. Vogue Portugal has taken the decision to pull one of the four covers of our July/August issue, which depicts a scene of a psychiatric hospital as well as the inside cover story based around the topic of mental health. Vogue Portugal deeply apologises for any offence or upset caused by this photo shoot. On reflection, we realise that the subject of mental health needs a more thoughtful approach. We sincerely apologise for this,” the magazine wrote, and proceeded to delete the previous imagery from the social media page.

Following the initial backlash, Editor-in-Chief Sofia Lucas defended the magazine’s decision to run the cover, writing that, “We acknowledge the significance of the topic of mental health and our intention, through visual storytelling, is to shine a light on the important issues of today.” “The cover story explores the historical context of mental health and is designed to reflect real life and authentic stories, inspired by deep research of hundreds of reportage photographs from some of the most relevant and famous documentarists who have captured mental health hospitals,” she added in a post on Instagram, which received another wave of backlash. Commenters pointed out that not only does the imagery perpetuate a stereotype of mental health institutions that do not match the real world, but also add to the stigma surrounding the conversation about mental health. 

Head over to Vogue Portugal to see the original cover, and read the full apology here.

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