THE BIG READ | How I Accidentally Became A Global Stock Photo

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Shubnum Khan thought it would be fun to pose for an arty photoshoot – but it was a decision that she’d regret.  (Photo: Gallo Images/ Getty Images; Supplied)
Shubnum Khan thought it would be fun to pose for an arty photoshoot – but it was a decision that she’d regret. (Photo: Gallo Images/ Getty Images; Supplied)

Her face has been on a McDonald's advert in China, used to sell carpets in New York and advertise a dating site in France but Shubnum Khan is spitting mad about the way she’s been exploited. In this extract from her new book, the South African author explains how a photo of her went global.

I was teaching a course in media studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and sitting in my office one day when someone told me to check my Facebook wall. A small discussion had erupted after my friend Sana in Canada posted an advert she’d found in her local newspaper, The Globe and Mail.

“Is this you?” she asked with a picture of an advert encouraging immigrants to Canada. Friends who had already seen the image had started to comment saying that it certainly looked like me. I studied the unclear photo uncertainly and then located the beauty spots on my cheek and chin.

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