Simone Botha, a cochlear implant user since she was 22 months old, is a professional dancer who was chosen to advertise a brand of gyms around the world. Several months ago, the gym advertising agency edited her cochlear implant, showing society still has a lot to learn about being inclusive and eliminate stigmas.
She posted the photo to her Facebook page and wrote to Virgin: “This is a billboard picture of me posing for Virgin Active and if you don’t know me personally then you won’t 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? Life isn’t perfect. No one is perfect.”
Virgin Active swiftly removed the edited photograph and had a meeting with the model: “We issued an immediate apology to Simone. We will work with Simone around education and have re-run the campaign, un-retouched. We 100% accept that the action of photo-shopping the image is not in line with our values as a business, nor in keeping with the welcome we extend to everyone.”
During our International Cochlear Implant Day 2018 celebration we want to share this story to raise awareness as Simone says, “Thanks to the Cochlear Implant, there are no limits!”. Her profession related with music is a clear proof of that.