Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Model Says Plastic Surgery Meme Ruined Her Life

Taiwanese model's career and life ruined after online memes circulated online

Have you come across an Internet urban legend that has been making the rounds on the Web since 2004 about a husband who allegedly sued his wife for fraud after analysing their kids' appearance and concluding that she had plastic surgery before their marriage?

How about the photo of a family with a beautiful couple and three "ugly" kids exposing the wife's "dishonesty" over her plastic surgery?

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It seems that all these modern myths are tied to a plastic surgery ad in 2012.

Taiwanese model Heidi Yeh, the face behind all those memes, revealed that this ad has affected not only her career but also her life. "I've broken down many times crying and I haven't been able to sleep," she said while trying to hold back tears.

"The biggest loss for me is I don't want to be a model anymore," she said. "Just because I'm a model, people can hurt me like this and I can't fight back. I just want to hide."

Ms Yeh told BBC News that the contract signed between her agency and Taipei-based J Walter Thompson states that the ad with caption "The only thing you'll ever have to worry about is how to explain it to the kids" would be used in newspaper and magazines solely by that clinic only.

However, the US-based international advertising agency later permitted another plastic surgery clinic, Simple Beauty, to utilize the photos and publish them on their website. The photos were also uploaded on JWT's Facebook page.

She said the children were also photoshopped to make their eyes look tiny and nose flatter. "The children may not use social media now, but it will hurt them when they grow up," she said.

After sometime, the photo became viral and had made its way on the Internet bearing a different caption: "Plastic surgery - you can't hide it forever."

The photo and accompanying fake stories like the one released by a Chinese newspaper affected Ms Yeh's career.

"People refused to believe that I had never had plastic surgery. Clients would ask me if I was the woman in the picture. After this, I only got small roles in advertisements." And it also made an impact on her personal life suspecting that her former boyfriend broke up with her because he was ashamed of the rumors. Even the relatives and family of her current fiancé have asked about it. And when spotted somewhere, public starts to gossip.

Put into figures, she claimed to have lost $4 million Taiwanese dollars and threatens to sue the agency and clinic for NT$5M. She claimed that her primary aim is not to gain money but to clear her name and the stories attached to it.

In a statement, JWT said: "As we all know, no-one controls the internet... We can't anticipate what degree of an impact it will have, how people will view it, and what they will do with it."

The clinic also claimed they had followed correct protocols following the publishing of the image. Both companies, on the other hand, are also threating to sue Ms Yeh for damaging their reputations and demanded for a public apology. Meanwhile, many critics view the move as Yeh's attempt to make a comeback on her career.

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