TACOMA, Wa. — A 20-year-old college student is speaking out after a picture of her was turned into a cruel viral meme.
Eighth months ago, Ashley VanPevenage had an allergic reaction to benzoyl peroxide which caused her face to severely break out, she told Buzzfeed. She asked her make-up artist friend to help cover up her acne. Her friend then posted a before-and-after picture on her Instagram account.
A Texas University student stole the picture from that Instagram account and turned it into a hateful meme. The student posted the meme on Twitter with the caption, “I don’t understand how people can do this and I can’t figure out how to conceal a single pimple on my face.”
Within days, the meme was picked up by other Twitter accounts, including @SoDamnTrue, a parody account that has 5 million followers. The photo was retweeted over 8,000 times.
A few other accounts copied the picture and included variations of hateful captions such as, “The reason why you gotta take a b*** swimming on the first date.”
After months of seeing and reading hurtful comments on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, VanPevenage decided to address the hateful meme in a Youtube video.
“Some days I will read through the comments and just see how cruel people can be,” VanPevenage said in the video.
“I lost my confidence. I didn’t like going out in public without makeup or without having my hair done.”
But after dealing with it for months, VanPevenage said she realized other people’s opinions don’t matter and shouldn’t stop her from living her life.
“My advice for people who may have to deal with this in the future is it doesn’t matter what people say about you or what they think about you,” she said.
“Everyone is beautiful inside and out.”