On Wednesday, ABC News aired an interview with Adriana, the woman who found herself linked to President Obama’s health care-glitch controversy when her stock image-like photo was used on the landing page of HealthCare.gov.
Adriana said she was born in Colombia but is currently applying for U.S. citizenship. She and her husband, a U.S. citizen, live in Maryland with their 21-month-old son.
According to ABC News, Adriana was “not a professional model” and wasn’t paid for her photo. She allowed the government to use her image in exchange for free family photos.
Adriana responded to an email from someone at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency responsible for the Affordable Care Act’s rollout, about having photos of her and her family taken for free in exchange for allowing the photos to be used to market the new health care law.
She was told her photo would be featured on HealthCare.gov, which stumbled online on Oct. 1, but Adriana couldn’t have anticipated that her image would be manipulated in scores of Photoshop jobs and late-night TV punch lines.
“We just didn’t know that it was going to have a negative impact,” she told ABC News, calling the meme-ification of her photo “cyberbullying.”
Adriana hasn’t signed up on HealthCare.gov and doesn’t have an opinion on the Affordable Care Act. She said she agreed to come forward after weeks of denying interviews “to tell people who I am and not just let everybody else say whatever they want.”
“I’m here to stand up for myself and defend myself and let people know the truth. I mean, I don’t know why people should hate me because it’s just a photo. I didn’t design the website. I didn’t make it fail, so I don’t think they should have any reasons to hate me.”
She said it was a “relief” when her photo was taken down. (According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the website switched its main image to “reinforce key information to users about options for applying at this point in time.”)
“I wanted the picture down, and they wanted the picture down. I don’t think anybody wanted to focus on the picture,” Adriana said. “Like I said, it was shocking. It was upsetting. It was sad. We were having a hard day when we read all this.”
Though she teared up in a version of her interview that aired on Good Morning America, Adriana said she’s “fine” and “[laughs] about it” now.
“They didn’t ruin my life. I still have a job, I’m still married,” Adriana said. “That didn’t really crush me to the ground.”