Kylie Jenner Slammed for Posing in Wheelchair for Provocative 'Interview' Magazine Photoshoot

The reality star is under fire from disability advocates

Photo: Steven Klein

Kylie Jenner and Interview magazine are under fire, and not for the images of the reality star in butt-baring leather chaps.

The photoshoot also includes pictures of Jenner posed in a wheelchair, which led to outcries on social media and from disability advocates saying that the images are offensive.

“It’s disappointing to see people fall back on the tired and totally untrue idea that being in a wheelchair is limiting. I think most wheelchair users, myself included, would tell you that our wheelchairs are empowering and enable us to fully live our lives,” Ian Ruder, senior editor of New Mobility, the member publication of United Spinal Association, tells PEOPLE.

“It’s deeply disturbing,” Emily Smith Beitiks, associate director of the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability in San Francisco, told CNN. “People with disabilities are already seen as powerless, and this just reinforces that.”

But Interview says the shoot plays with ideas of power and subjectivity, and that it was not intended to be offensive.

“At Interview, we are proud of our tradition of working with great artists and empowering them to realize their distinct and often bold visions. The Kylie Jenner cover by Steven Klein, which references the British artist Allen Jones, is a part of this tradition, placing Kylie in a variety of positions of power and control and exploring her image as an object of vast media scrutiny,” Interview said in a statement to PEOPLE.

“Throughout the Art Issue, we celebrate a variety of women who are both the creators and subjects of their artistic work, and the Kylie feature aims to unpack Kylie’s status as both engineer of her image and object of attention,” the statement said. “Our intention was to create a powerful set of pictures that get people thinking about image and creative expression, including the set with the wheelchair, but our intention was certainly not to offend anyone.”

But people on Twitter agree with Beitiks.

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The shoot is also drawing comparisons to the Helmut Newton photos in Vogue’s February 1995 issue, which shows an abled model outfitted with leg braces, canes and a wheelchair.

Lady Gaga came under similar critique in 2011, when she performed “You and I” in a wheelchair for a concert in Sydney, Australia, and for her 2009 “Paparazzi” video, which includes her in a wheelchair and dancing with crutches.

But Beitiks says that the images hurt those who are physically disabled.

“I think she’s literally being objectified made to look like a sex doll, and this wheelchair is an added element of passivity they’re adding on,” she said.

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