In 2010, Christian Demeritt booked a photographer to shoot new headshots for her, hoping those images would help propel her acting career. But 13 years later, she discovered others used her pictures for different purposes. 

In a series of TikTok videos, Demeritt chronicled discovering her 13-year-old headshots were used as part of breast reduction advertisements, training modules and an erotic novel.

Demeritt, who got the headshots shortly after earning a degree in theater from Florida A&M University, remembers gravitating toward the photographer after a fellow actress recommended him.

“She inboxed me his information and said he does really great work,” she told USA Today.

The photographer asked Demeritt to sign a model release form. She agreed and paid him $100. But unfortunately, she did not read the fine print of the document.

Four years passed, and Demeritt, then a happy customer, didn’t think much about the photoshoot. Then, someone she knew walked by a newsstand in Sacramento, California, and said she saw her on a magazine cover. She saw a digitally altered image of Demeritt that made her look like Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

“When I first found out, I was shocked,” Demeritt said. “I found it almost unbelievably amusing at that point. … I had never even been to California.”

Demeritt explained in a video that her headshots then started popping up everywhere. One use included a billboard in another country. Another was a breast reduction ad. Her headshots also appeared in articles about what shirts to wear if you have bigger breasts.

Over the years, people have sent Demeritt those pictures of herself approximately 30 times. But, according to USA Today, she doesn’t want to call out the photographer because he didn’t do anything legally wrong.

However, the most alarming use of Demeritt’s images was on the cover of His BIG Childhood Sweetheart, an erotic novel published by Afro Romance Books. The book explores interracial relationships, and its cover includes Demeritt with a shirtless white man.

Afro Romance Books stated the author is not responsible for the cover and noted sourcing the images from a purchased subscription to a stock image website. Since Demeritt posted her first video about the situation in January, sales of the book have spiked.

But Demeritt, pursuing her second master’s degree in acting from the New York Film Academy in Burbank and working to produce a thesis film, has yet to profit from those sales. Instead, she knows that selling images to stock photo websites is standard for photographers.

“This happens often and I’m sure a lot of people don’t know about it,” she told USA Today.