Digital Transformation

Deaf ballet dancer sounds off against Virgin Active hearing aid Photoshop

By John Glenday | Reporter

October 30, 2017 | 3 min read

A deaf ballet dancer has taken Virgin Active to task after the gym chain took the liberty of photoshopping her hearing aid from its latest advertising campaign.

Simone Botha Welgemoed has worn a Cochlear implant, an electronic device which replaces the function of the inner ear, since 1992 but was surprised to see it absent from her photograph when the campaign went live on social media.

Welgemoed wrote: “I was shockingly surprised and it felt like somebody just dropped a bucket of water on me. I couldn't believe what I saw when my sister tagged me in the Virgin advertisement on Instagram, I couldn't believe what I saw.

Virgin Active

Deaf ballet dancer sounds off against Virgin Active hearing aid Photoshop

"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."

Virgin Active has since apologised for its editing, replaced the offending image with the undoctored original and pledged to work with Welgemoed on an education programme.

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A Virgin spokesman added: “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.”

Virgin's faux pas is but the latest in a long line of Photoshop fails over the years, such as the memorable billboard campaign in which girl band member Ally Brooke was given two right feet.

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