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Spanish beach body campaign uses model's image without permission

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By Sophia Khatsenkova  & Isabella Jewell
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Barcelona beach   -   Copyright  Francisco Seco/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

A Spanish body positivity campaign The Summer is Ours has raised eyebrows, after it was revealed that one of the artists involved used images and text that she did not have permission to use. 

ArteMapache was commissioned by the Women's Institute, a organisation attached to Spain's Ministry of Equality, to create a poster for the launch of their summer campaign, which seeks to encourage women of all sizes to be proud of their beach bodies. 

On Wednesday, the reaction to the launch was widely positive, with Twitter users praising the message behind the poster. 

"Love this new campaign in Spain! I still find it hard to forget those 'beach body ready' posters on the tube a few years ago. Would be nice to replace it in my mind with this," said one Twitter user, adding the #Summerisourstoo. 

Just one day later, however, the artist was forced to apologise after the source of her images and font were revealed as being taken from at least two models and a graphic designer without having sought permission or agreed payment. 

ArteMapache said: "First of all I would like to publicly apologise to the models for having been inspired by their photographs for the “Summer is ours too” campaign and for having used an unlicensed typeface -[thinking it was free]."

She added that the fairest way forward would be to "distribute the benefits derived from this work in equal parts" and that she has only ever sought "inspiration" from the models. 

One of those who featured on the poster is a British activist and 'model with influence' Nyome Nicholas-Williams, who said she was unaware that her likeness had been used in the campaign until a follower spotted it. 

Nicholas-Williams told Euronews she was "shocked" and "saddened" to discover her photos had been used, but that this is not the first time someone has taken her images without asking. 

"Why does this keep happening," she said. "It's the second time now and it could have been avoided if [a] simple conversation had been had."

The model's face was also superimposed on someone else's body, something Nicholas-Williams described as "icky", saying it "takes away from what [the campaigners] were trying to do initially". 

When the poster was originally released, the Ministry of Equality tweeted from their official account that the campaign was taking a stand against "aesthetic violence". 

One Twitter user, however, drew attention to the irony of the Ministry's statement, saying: "Summer is also ours. What is not so much ours are the image rights of the women that we expose in the poster. No aesthetic violence against those bodies, but quite a bit of economic violence."

The Women's Institute responded to the controversy on Twitter, thanking ArteMapache for "recognising the error" and "being open to listening to the women involved in the fight against fatphobia and racism.”

Nyome Nicholas-Williams says she is treating the artist with compassion as "we all make mistakes", but that she should have reached out to discuss the use of her image before it was published. 

The model, however, said she is dismayed to have not yet heard directly from the Women's Institute or received an official apology from the campaign team.