Hoaxes & Rumors

Classic Urban Legend: Ugly Baby Lawsuit

Classic Urban Legend: Ugly Baby Lawsuit

An urban legend claims that a man successfully sued his wife for giving birth to an “ugly” child because she had hidden the fact that she had plastic surgery.

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This story has been circulating since about 2004. It is typically reported that after a couple had a baby, the father was upset by the child’s unusually “ugly” appearance. At first he suspected infidelity on his wife’s part, but after DNA testing proved that he was in fact the father, the man realized his wife had undergone plastic surgery prior to their marriage. This was the basis for a lawsuit in which the man claimed he had been deceived, and he was awarded a large sum of money.

2004 Versions

This story can be found as far back as 2004. We found two variations from May of that year. Here is a version published by the Daily Times:

A Chinese man has divorced and sued his wife for £55,000 after discovering she’d had plastic surgery before they met. Jian Feng, 38, was said to have been horrified when she gave birth to an ugly baby daughter. He suspected her of having an affair.

His wife then confessed to having plastic surgery costing £70,000 in South Korea before they met and showed him a picture of how she used to look.

He filed for divorce two years after marrying her following a whirlwind romance.

Compare that with this version in iOL News from the same month:

Hong Kong – A disgusted husband in northern China divorced his wife and sued her for deceit after discovering that she had had plastic surgery before they met, a news report said on Wednesday.

Jian Feng became suspicious when the beautiful woman he married two years earlier gave birth to an ugly daughter last year, according to the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily.

Jian, from Hegang, Heilongjiang province, demanded to know if she had been unfaithful to him and to prove her fidelity. His wife then showed him a photograph of herself taken before her cosmetic surgery.

The woman had travelled to South Korea before they met and paid more than $100,000 (almost R675 000) for surgery to make her better looking, the newspaper said.

Horrified at the picture, Jian divorced his wife and successfully sued for compensation of $120,000.

Note that many of the same details are used, and these details continue to be circulated nearly 10 years later.

2013 Version

The most recent version of the story shows little change to the 2004 version, although it is now circulated with a family photo allegedly showing the couple and their children. In November 2013, the story went viral in part because it was reported by WTOP in Chicago. Several others local news outlets around the country also ran the story.

The story has been circulated with a variety of photographs over the years. Originally a photo of the alleged baby was included, while a before-and-after of the wife was also circulated. In the latest incarnation, a family portrait has been used:


Family Portrait

The above photo is actually an advertisement for a plastic surgery clinic in Taiwan, with a caption that reads, “The only thing you have to worry about after plastic surgery is the explaining you’ll have to do to your children.” It has nothing to do with a lawsuit regarding an “ugly” child. (See Rocket News 24 link below)

Wife Before and After

Below is a “before and after” photo, allegedly of the wife in this story. This photo was circulated with the story back in 2012:


“Ugly Daughter” Photo

Below is a photo that was circulated with the story, which allegedly shows the child in question:


Is it a Hoax?

Some of the local media outlets that originally reported the story have since added disclaimers which point out that the story has not been authenticated and there are conflicting reports.

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In November 2013, the Huffington Post and ABC 15 out of Arizona claimed that the story was likely a hoax. ABC 15 states that the story originally appeared in the Heilongjiang Morning Post, a  Chinese newspaper that has a history of printing false stories.

2015 Interview: Heidi Yeh

A BBC interview with Heidi Yeh published in October 2015 revealed that the woman in the photo claims the urban legend had ruined her career.

After posing for the initial photo, which was meant to only be used once in print, Yeh said that the fake backstory was created, and readers assumed it to be true. She also said that the children in the photo were Photoshopped and didn’t resemble that in real life.

heidi yeh

“People refused to believe that I have never had plastic surgery,” she said. After the urban legend began to circulate, her budding career essentially ended. Even her family members and fiance’s family confronted her about the fake story.

Bottom Line

Although the story has been circulating for nearly a decade, there has been no follow-up, nor any corroborating reports by legitimate news organizations. The original story cited no sources, nor have any reputable organizations confirmed the information reported.

The Huffington Post and ABC 15 in Arizona both claimed that the story was likely a hoax in 2013.

Also note that the 2004 story claimed that the couple had a daughter together, when the family portrait above clearly shows the oldest child to be a boy. Further, it does not stand to reason that the couple would have two more children together if their first child resulted in said lawsuit.

In 2015, the woman in the photo was interviewed and confirmed that the story was fake. She also claimed that the urban legend had ruined her career and caused her emotional distress.


Revised November 4, 2015
Originally published November 2013

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