Vogue Portugal criticised for ‘offensive’ cover of ‘madness issue’

The cover on the left is at the centre of controversy (Picture: Vogue Portugal)

Vogue Portugal is facing criticism across the internet for one of four covers for their upcoming July/August 2020 issue.

For what the magazine has called ‘The Madness Issue’, one cover shows a woman naked in a bathtub, having water poured over her by two women in old-fashioned nurse uniforms.

Many have accused the cover of relying on an outdated and ‘upsetting’ stereotype of mental illness and psychiatric hospitals.

The magazine’s Instagram post showing the cover, which will be released alongside three other cover photos, has been flooded with hundreds of comments – sharing a mixed response.

While some have praised the magazine for ‘demystifying’ mental illness, others have called the image ‘offensive’.

Model Sara Sampaio commented: ‘This kind of photo should not be representing the conversation about mental health! I think it’s very bad taste!’

The cover shows a woman in what appears to be a psychiatric hospital (Picture: Vogue Portugal)

On Twitter, fashion writer and contributing editor at AnOther Magazine Hannah Tindle wrote: ‘So Vogue Portugal’s July/August 2020 issue is titled ‘The Madness Issue’ and uses the aesthetic of a psychiatric hospital as its cover. Who is approving this shit???’

Some are fans of the edition’s imagery. One person wrote on Twitter ‘idgi this is chic’, while among the criticism in the Instagram comments there are plenty of heart emoji and praise for the magazine.

Much of the criticism around the cover raises concerns around how psychiatric hospitals are depicted in mainstream culture.

Many of us will associate mental health wards with the sterile white environments and straitjackets we’ve likely seen in films and on TV, when the reality of these places can be very different.

There’s a concern that depictions of psychiatric hospitals with these outdated tropes – the old-fashioned nurse costumes, the woman looking haunted in a bathtub – contribute to damaging stereotypes of people with mental health issues.

Mental health advocate Poorna Bell puts this more succinctly on Twitter, writing: ‘On behalf of anyone who has ever been in a psychiatric hospital or had a loved one who has been in one, honestly @VoguePortugal, f*** you.’

‘Covers like this continue to contribute to a negative stigma when it comes to mental health,’ reads another tweet featuring the cover. ‘And all for an aesthetic purpose? This isn’t it.’

We’ve reached out to Vogue Portugal and Condé Nast for comment and will update this article with their response if they get back to us.

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