The identity of the mysterious "Obamacare girl" whose smiling face greeted disgruntled HealthCare.gov users until the photo was removed last month has been revealed: Her name is Adriana, she's not happy, and she may not even be an American citizen.
The woman, who asked that only her first name be used, told ABC News this week that she has come forward to fight the cyber bullying she claims to have suffered.
"They have nothing else to do but hide behind the computer. They're cyber bullying," Adriana told ABC News' Amy Robach
. "I'm here to stand up for myself and defend myself and let people know the truth."
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Dubbed the "enigmatic Mona Lisa of healthcare," Adriana's photo quickly became associated with the glitchy rollout of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act
website last month. She became an easy target for late-night TV hosts and political commentators. Bloggers Photoshopped her face. Twitter users commented on her "ethnic" appearance and speculated that she might not even be an American citizen eligible for Obamacare.
"I mean, I don't know why people should hate me because it's just a photo," Adriana told ABC News. "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."
Adriana, a Colombian who lives in Maryland with her husband and 21-month-old son, didn’t know she would become the welcome wagon for HealthCare.gov when she first contacted the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services asking about free family photos. The agency offered the portraits free of charge in exchange for Adriana agreeing to allow the pictures to be used in Obamacare marketing materials, according to ABC News. She was not paid.
Her photo was ultimately taken down from the site after she requested it be removed, Adriana claimed, though the Department of Health and Human Services said otherwise.
"The individuals in the images that we used for the launch of the website redesign in June and through the beginning of open enrollment signed standard releases and understood how their images would be used," a spokesperson for HHS said in a statement. "We transitioned to new graphics because we believe they provide a better way to visually reinforce key information to users about options for applying at this point in time."
As for her citizenship status, Adriana says she has lived legally as a permanent resident in the U.S. for more than six years and is applying for full citizenship. Both her husband and son are citizens, she added.
Despite all the negative attention, Adriana said she can now make light of the whole situation.
"They didn't ruin my life. I still have a job, I'm still married," she said. "That didn't really crush me to the ground. I'm fine. Now I laugh about it."
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