Thursday 27 October 2016

This model became a meme and her career was ruined

Published 07/11/2015 | 14:18

A model whose image was used in a plastic surgery company's campaign said her career has been ruined.

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Heidi Yeh was working as a successful model in Taiwan when she agreed to pose in an advertisement for a specific clinic. However, when her image was later used to promote another business Simple Beauty, it soon went viral and became the stuff of internet urban legends.

Her pictured was used to accompany fabricated stories about a man who divorced his wife, then sued because they had an "ugly baby daughter" and he only then realised she had lied about cosmetic surgery.

She said her career is now struggling as a result and is suing the company who booked her and Simple Beauty for $150,000 in damages.

"I thought it was just rumours, then I realized the whole world was spreading this story and in different languages," she told BBC News.

"People actually believed it and thought this had happened to me. Even my relatives and fiancé's family have asked me about it."

"I keep thinking, 'Why is this happening to me?'" Yeh said. "I decided to speak out because I wanted to give myself some courage to deal with this problem."

Yeh said she is also struggling on a personal level, saying: "People refused to believe that I had never had plastic surgery,” she said. “Clients would ask me if I was the woman in the picture. After this, I only got small roles in advertisements.

"I've broken down many times crying and I haven't been able to sleep. I can’t bear to look at the picture. I hope it will not appear anymore.”

The company says however they only shared the image on their Facebook page and released a statement to the network.

"The ad appeared in U-Paper, a daily newspaper for subway commuters," the company's statement says.

“Local news media ran stories on the campaign, and that news coverage was shared online.

"At some point later, individuals shared the image online in other contexts.

"Our campaign was created for print publication in the Taiwan market. With technology, smart phone cameras and social media, however, even print ad can go viral. We can’t anticipate what degree an impact it will have, how people will view it, and what they will do with it."

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