cautionary tale

posted on: Monday, September 10, 2012

i've been struggling with how to tell this story
or if i should even bother telling it at all.
i don't want to give it any more time and attention than i already have.

but in the end, i think it might be worth it
to make you aware of what can happen when you choose to share your life on the internet.

last week, i got an email from a reader
letting me know that she had seen an image of me
in a presentation that was posted on Facebook.
she sent me the link so i could confirm it was me.
she said she thought it was weird that they used my image
so i followed the link and found out why

i found that a private school in the U.S.
had put together a presentation entitled "Dressing Appropriately"
one of the slides had a picture of me (with my face blurred out) 
in an Herve Leger bandage dress
next to a picture of another girl with her face blurred out
and the title read "One of these girls has a bad reputation in school...
can you guess which one?"

after reading through the presentation,
it was clear that it was geared toward middle-school girls
and instructing them on appropriate attire for school.

i was perturbed for a number of reasons:
1. an image of me had been stolen off my blog
2. my character had been called into question
3. i was so easily recognizable that someone knew it was me, 
even though my face was blurred out.

i contacted the school administrators
asking them to removed my image from the presentation
and to disable the link
which they did in a very expedient manner
and they also apologized.
they said my image had been found using a Google image search.
and that they never meant to paint anyone in a negative light.


i am sharing this story to make you all aware that things like this can happen.
if my reader (thank you so much. you know who you are.) had not let me know,
i would still be living my life in blissful ignorance
unaware that my image was being used in such a slanderous way.
as it stands,
i'm still reeling and trying to recover.
it feels awful to have strangers insinuate terrible things about your character.
and to know that you are appearing on the internet in places you never intended to.

the internet can be a scary place.
especially when people take things that are not theirs
without permission.

i've been guilty of this.
using images i didn't have permission to use.
i won't be doing that ever again.
because it feels like shit when it happens to you.

i've read some other bloggers' horror stories
about how they were sued for using images without permission
or how their pictures of their kids turned up on t-shirts in foreign countries
 i honestly didn't think it would happen to me
i didn't think my blog was big enough or popular enough.
apparently size doesn't matter.

so let this be a warning to you.
please be careful.
and if you ever see me turn up somewhere else on the interweb
please don't hesitate to let me know about it.


  1. Ugh, that's awful! I'm so sorry that happened to you, I can only imagine how it must feel (supremely violating comes to mind). It's really awesome that whoever that reader was notified you about it though. Silver lining, am I right?

  2. Wow, I didn't realize someone could get a picture off a blog, a personal blog, and just use it however they like. I'm glad a reader of yours informed you and you got it taken care of!

  3. That is terrible! I am sorry that happened to you!

  4. Did you set them straight about how off they were about your character?

  5. that is really horrifying. Not only that they stole the photo, but that they'd use it for that purpose. I find it ironic that they're trying to teach morality or ethics or whatever, and it turns out they are the ones that are judgmental (and for no good reason whatsoever!) -- not to mention the fact that they STOLE an image, which in itself is morally questionable at best.

    I'm glad you set them straight. I think I would've been too much of a wuss to do so.

  6. Wow! How awful! I got your thank you note in the mail today, so sweet. Thanks for the thanks! Take care Emily

  7. this scares the crap out of me. I know it happens all the time. I don't want to stop blogging, but at the same time sometimes I feel so exposed....

  8. WHOA! that is crazy. I realized (through a very harmless friend-misunderstanding) that pictures could be downloaded off of my blog, so I finally got around to doing a watermark. It's not a perfect solution, but it's something. Something I'd meant to do for a while, but was too lazy... but now I'm glad I did.
    Too bad that presentation didn't include that you are a successful, GROWN, beautiful, doctor-lady. Oh, and MARRIED, if that's what this school requires of a girl in order for her to talk to boys and not be "loose". That's just sickening. I'm sorry your privacy and trust were violated.

  9. I am so sorry for such a hectic violation!! But thank you for making us all aware again - we have to be very cautious in this online world - so sad that people can cross such personal boundaries without even thinking twice!!

  10. That's a little scary. You read stories about this happening, but you're right- you think its only the really big blogs. Good thing your reader contacted you!

  11. Yikes! This would piss me off, to put it lightly. And they say "they never meant to paint anyone in a negative light" - yet wasn't that the point of the presentation? Ugh. I am so sorry.

    Thank you for sharing this lesson.

  12. This should make me happy that only family and friends read my blog, but in all honesty I still found it a bit scary.


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