Christian Demeritt took headshots after graduating college in 2010.
Years later, she saw her image pop up online in different ads, billboards, and a romance novel.
She didn’t read the fine print and told Insider her story is a cautionary tale.
Imagine scrolling online and coming across an ad featuring your face — but you never consented. Or seeing your face on the cover of a romance novel, and you never knew until a stranger or a friend told you.
Those scenarios have been a reality for Christian Demeritt when she noticed the same headshot that she took over a decade ago, after graduating with a theater degree from Florida A&M University, was used in a breast reduction ad.
Christian Demeritt took headshots after graduating college in 2010. Years later, she saw her image pop up online in different ads, billboards, and a romance novel.Courtesy of Christian Demeritt
“I’ve always had a large chest, I thought it was funny because it specifically is advertising for breast reductions and my breasts are huge in that picture,” Demeritt told Insider, noting that she — oddly — got a breast reduction two months after taking the photos.
She said she got the headshots in 2010 after a friend connected her with the photographer who was able to give her a good deal at the time — about $100. Before they met in person, he emailed some documents to sign.
“He did mention that there would be a model release form. I didn’t know what that meant,” the Miami native said, who is also an up-and-coming actress.
Since then, many people have said they’ve seen her image used in multiple places including a billboard and novel cover. She did not disclose the photographer’s name because, as she told Insider, he did not do anything wrong but hopefully her story can be a cautionary tale for others.
“I was just excited about the discount and I signed it without reading the fine print,” she said. “This whole thing is completely on me.”
‘I did not read the fine print’
The first sighting was in 2014, four years after her photoshoot. Demeritt said that a woman she knew reached out to her on Facebook and mentioned that she saw her face in front of a local newspaper in Sacramento.
“She sent me a newspaper magazine called the Sacramento News and Review,” she recalled. “It was a picture of my face from the headshots, but it was photoshopped onto the Mona Lisa…and the headline said something to the effect of “Is Sacramento’s Art Scene Too White?”
Demeritt was perplexed as to why her face was used, especially from a publication in a state that she hadn’t even visited during that time. When she reached out to her friend, she learned that her image was used as stock photos. It prompted her to reverse Google search leading her to find out her likeness was being used “everywhere,” she said.
“Random people have said they have seen me and either recognized me from different ads or their family and friends had,” she continued. “It’s been going on for over 10 years now. It’s just part of my life.”
In January, she shared her story on TikTok, @christian.joy.d, and since then people have been telling her that they’ve seen her photo before. In one video, she spoke about how she’s on the cover of a book titled “His BIG, Childhood Sweetheart” by Samantha Drake.
A spokesperson for Afro Romance, the publishing company for the book, told USA TODAY last month that they bought her photo from a stock website.
A similar situation happened to a New Jersey mother in 2011 who saw her 4-year-old daughter’s photo used in an anti-abortion billboard, as Insider reported. She later learned from the photographer that her child’s photos would be used for stock photography.
“I kind of get a little upset when I think about the fact that he is still making money off of me and so many other people,” she said but added that she is taking accountability for her actions. “I’m a rule follower, I didn’t follow the rules in this case. I feel like this is my fault because I did not read the fine print.”
Read the original article on Insider