Ashley VanPevenage was having an allergic reaction to benzoyl when she asked her friend to do her makeup in order to cover the blemishes.
The makeup artist and friend posted the gorgeous photo on her Instagram page, where it was quickly reposted by the Twitter account @virtuallyvivi 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.”
From there, two other parody accounts — @SoDamnTrue and @KardashianReact — reposted the shot, and an Internet meme was born. One post using the photo captioned it as “the reason why you gotta take a bitch swimming on the first date.”
People laugh and comment at the memes, forgetting that there is a real, beautiful person behind the photo. So this week, VanPevenage put a face to the viral photos by speaking out on YouTube.
In the video, she admits to liking memes, but once she became one she started reading the “very disturbing and nasty” comments.
“Some days I will read through the comments and just see how cruel people can be,” she said in the video. “Luckily, my family hasn’t had to deal with any harassment, it has just been me.”
At first, she admitted she didn’t want to leave the house or do her makeup and hair. Eventually, she figured out that the comments of anonymous people don’t matter. Instead, she wants to inspire women to rise up and support others going through tough times.
“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.”