An overweight actor from Los Angeles is speaking out against the New York City Health Department after he says the agency unjustly altered an image of him turning a fully-limbed man into a legless man for an advertisement about diabetes.
According to the New York Times, Cleo Berry says he was stunned when he discovered the ad, which pictured him as an amputee with crutches. Berry has both limbs.
“I was beyond shocked,” he told the Times. “I cried at my computer screen for like a minute. I said, ‘Oh my gosh, they even gave me crutches. Come on, people.'”
The ad, which was posted throughout New York’s subway system and on the Internet, decries supersized portions of fast food and dramatizes the dangers of diabetes.
Berry, 27, said the picture came from a photo shoot that he participated in several years ago. He explained that at the time, he was strapped for cash and participated in the shoot because it promised $500.
Though he said he was unaware that the pictures were for a stock agency, he did recall signing a release form that allowed the alteration of his image.
But he explained that while he supports the city’s efforts to educate people about the dangers of diabetes, he says a real victim of the disease should have been featured.
“Using an edited image of myself, an able-bodied person, …makes light of the disease and the severity of its side effects,” Berry posted on his Facebook page.
Berry also told the Times that he’s afraid of what the ad could do to his acting career. In addition to landing several film roles, he also starred on the Fox series “House.”
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told WCBS 880 that he didn’t see anything wrong with the ad, and the edited image is “just a common practice” in advertising.
The N.Y. Health Department is also holding their ground in the matter.
“Sometimes we use individuals who are suffering from the particular disease, other times we have to use actors,” spokesperson John Kelly said in a statement, according to WCBS’ sister station WINS. We might stop using actors in our ads if the food industry stops using actors in theirs.”