How an Internet Urban Legend Destroyed This Model's Career

After starring in an ad for a plastic surgery clinic in Taiwan, Heidi Yeh became the subject of a false story circulated widely online.

(Image credit: ARCHIVES)

In 2012, Taiwanese model Heidi Yeh was a successful working model, booking regular jobs with name brands. 

Then she signed on to do an ad for a Taiwanese cosmetic clinic, and that's when her personal and professional nightmare started. 

The ad features Yeh in a family portrait setting with a man and three children. Yeh and the man look noticeably different from the children, who Yeh says were retouched to look the way they do in the ad. The tagline reads: "The only thing you'll ever have to worry about is how to explain it to the kids."

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(Image credit: ARCHIVES)

According to Yeh, her contract stipulated that the ad be featured only in newspapers and magazines, and just by that clinic. But it ended up online after being posted by a different clinic, Simple Beauty. 

Soon after that, accounts surfaced online of a man who had divorced his wife and then sued her because he had discovered that she had lied about having cosmetic surgery. She had also given birth to "an ugly baby daughter." The report was accompanied by the photo from the ad featuring Yeh. 

"I thought it was just rumors, then I realized the whole world was spreading this story and in different languages," Yeh 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." 

She stopped booking as many jobs, she said, and companies wouldn't believe her when she said she hadn't had plastic surgery herself. Yeh has gone public in Taiwan, and is now suing the clinic Simple Beauty and the modeling agency for approximately $150,000 in damages, according to Shanghaiist. The clinic and the modeling agency are in turn threatening to sue Yeh for damaging their images, according to BBC News. 

"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." 

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Helin Jung is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles. She was formerly the executive lifestyle editor of