hen was the last time you saw a hearing-impaired model featured prominently in a major ad campaign? Yeah, nothing comes to mind for us, either.
That's why when Virgin Active invited a dancer with a cochlear impact to appear in an, it was pretty groundbreaking.
However, when she saw the finished ads, she quickly went from super excited to profoundly disappointed.
Simone Botha Welgemoed is a model, dancer, and former beauty queen from South Africa.
She also happens to be deaf.
“I was born profoundly deaf and received my CI (Cochlear implant) at the age of 22 months. At that stage I was the youngest child in Africa to receive it, without my CI I hear absolutely nothing at all,” said Welgemoed.
So you can imagine her excitement when she discovered she'd been selected by Virgin Active to appear in their most recent ad campaign.
During the shoot, Welgemoed wore her hair pulled up into a tight bun and struck a series of ballet poses.
But when she first laid eyes on the completed ad, there was one prominent feature missing: her cochlear implant, which would have been clearly visible.
It had been Photoshopped out without her permission.
Instead of just letting it go, however, Welgemoed made a powerful statement about the way our society views the disabled.
In a Facebook post featuring the doctored image, she wrote: “I’m not somebody that just rants on about every little thing, but this is something that affects me personally and I am saddened by what I see…”
"This is a billboard picture of me posing for Virgin Active and if you don't know me personally then you wont miss the tiny piece that is a cochlear implant that is supposed to sit on my head."
“They just went and without my permission decided to edit the cochlear implant out, because why!!??? It doesn’t fit with their pretty little picture of portraying the perfect life that is Virgin Active?”
"Well guess what?" she continued...
“Life isn’t perfect. No one is perfect. I am proudly hearing impaired and was happy to inspire through Virgin Active that people with hearing disabilities also lead and enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle.”