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Model's Life Ruined After Commercial Goes Viral

A model who appeared in a Taiwanese plastic surgery commercial says her life was ruined after the photos went viral.

In an interview with BBC News, model Heidi Yeh spoke out about what it was like when her photo went viral and turned into an internet joke after it was attached to a fake news story about a man who sued his wife for lying to him about getting plastic surgery before they got married. Three years ago, Yeh was hired to do a modeling job for a plastic surgery office. She was matched with a man to play her handsome husband and three children who were later photoshopped to look different from their attractive parents. The bottom of the ad was, "The only thing you have to worry you about after plastic surgery is the explaining you'll have to do to your children." “On the day of the photo shoot I had a rough idea of what it was about, but I was told the photo would only be used in print media and for one company,” Yeh told BBC, according to their translator. “I didn’t know that it would be used so widely on the internet and there would be so many made up stories about it.” The ad would later go viral on a fake Chinese news website. Apparently, the parents in the ad have had plastic surgery, and not surprisingly, they both look extremely attractive,” the  reporter wrote [emphasis ours]. “But alas, plastic surgery, of course, does not change your genes.” The report also said that the husband sued his wife for lying to him. Evidently, it was all a hoax that dates back all the way back to 2004. According to the myth-debunking website Snopes, when Heilongjiang Morning Post published a story that claimed a Chinese man named Jian Feng had sued his wife successfully for hiding the fact she had undergone plastic surgery operations. After Yeh's plastic surgery commercial came out, suddenly the old story went viral. In 2013, the Irish Examiner, MSN, and other news media outlets all ran with the story. Though they were posting several photos attached to the hoax, including one of Yeh's plastic surgery ad. “I thought it was rumors,” Yeh told BBC when a friend told her that her picture was going viral. “Then I realized that the whole world was spreading the story and in different languages. People actually believed it and thought it was happening to me.” Yeh's photo would later become a meme. Her family, as well has her fiancé's family, began to question if she ever had plastic surgery. Yeh told reporters that since the photo went viral, she's had trouble getting additional modeling jobs after previously working with major brands such as KFC and appearing in popular music videos. Yeh also said she has trouble sleeping and suffers from depression. “I keep thinking, why is this happening to me,” she told BBC. “I decided to speak out because I wanted to give myself some courage to deal with this problem.” Yeh is now suing the advertisement agency J. Walter Thompson for misuse of the photo, according to Shanghaist. She argues that the contract only stated the ad was going to run in print magazines, however, her photo has appeared in several other online ad campaigns. She is currently asking for about $154,000 in compensation. Meanwhile, her agency is suing her for "untrue allegations."

“I can’t bear to look at the picture,” Yeh told BBC. “I hope it will not appear anymore.”

You can watch the whole interview here.

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