The woman, who spoke to ABC News and was identified only as Adriana, has been the subject of jokes, political commentary and intense Internet speculation.
"They have nothing else to do but hide behind the computer. They're cyberbullying," Adriana said. "I'm here to stand up for myself and defend myself and let people know the truth.”
Adriana ended up being part of the Healthcare.gov rollout when she had family pictures taken in exchange for allowing the photos to be used to market the new health care law. She didn’t foresee all the website’s problems.
"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."
The Colombian woman has lived legally in the U.S. for more than six years and is applying for citizenship, but Internet users questioning her immigrant status based on her picture didn’t know that.
"Like I said it was shocking. It was upsetting. It was sad. We were having a hard day when we read all this," she said. Her photo was removed about two weeks ago.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services said Adriana's photo was taken down because "Healthcare.gov is a dynamic website."
"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," said the HHS spokesperson. "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."
She’s now trying to find the humor in being called a "vaguely ethnic smiling woman,” by
TV host Stephen Colbert. "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. I'm fine. Now I laugh about it."
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