The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Model says Spanish body positivity campaign used her photo without consent

A woman sits by the beach in Barcelona on July 28. (Francisco Seco/AP)

A Spanish government campaign to promote body positivity has come under fire after a model said she was featured without her consent.

The image, featuring five women with different body shapes at a beach together with the words “Summer is ours too,” was released on social media Wednesday.

The aim was to celebrate body diversity and “the right of all women to enjoy public spaces,” the government said.

“All bodies are beach bodies,” tweeted Social Services Minister Ione Belarra after the campaign launched, while another minister commented: “All bodies are valid and we have the right to enjoy life as we are, without guilt or shame. Summer is for everyone!”

The problem, says one of the women who appears in the illustration, is that she did not consent to her image being used.

British model Nyome Nicholas-Williams said that the photo was taken from her Instagram feed and that she was not contacted by the Spanish government or the artist before the campaign launched.

“I think it does show that women’s — especially Black women’s — bodies are so policed and our bodies as women are not our own,” she told The Post, noting that an Instagram follower first alerted her to the campaign.

“It’s a very positive campaign, but why was I not approached and asked?” she said.

Nicholas-Williams said she has not managed to contact the other women featured in the campaign and did not know whether they had been paid or consented to appear.

The artist behind the campaign, Arte Mapache, apologized to the models involved, writing on Twitter that the illustrator mistakenly thought that the image was unlicensed and free to use. The artist offered to share the 4,490 euros (almost $4,560) paid for the image and would work to “repair the damage caused … and try to solve this matter privately with the parties involved.”

Spain’s Women’s Institute praised the artist’s response: “Thank you for your anti-fatphobia activism, for recognizing the error regarding illustration and being open to listening to the women involved in the fight against fatphobia and racism.”

Nicholas-Williams said that her agent was in touch with the artist but that she has still not received any communication from the government agencies involved in the campaign.

“I think the apologies should come from the people who made the campaign. The illustrator has apologized — and I accept her apology, she made an error, she’s a human. But I think this is a problem of governments and people that have more power: They just don’t see the error in the things that they do.”