In January, a 20-year-old woman named Ashley VanPevenage had an allergic reaction to benzoyl, and after it caused her acne to flare up, she turned to her makeup artist friend, known on Instagram as @MakeupByDreigh, to help camouflage her skin. Dreigh then posted VanPevenage’s before-and-after photos on her Instagram account, and after a follower retweeted the photos, they went viral. While Dreigh’s work was praised, others used the photos as an opportunity to mock VanPevenage with a plethora of nasty memes.
“The reason why you gotta take a bitch swimming on the first date,” tweeters wrote alongside VanPevenage’s side-by-side photos, while another man referenced dating and added: “This is why I have trust issues.”
Eight months later, VanPevenage is finally speaking out.
“I used to be entertained by many memes,” VanPevenage says in a YouTube video posted to her account on Tuesday, Oct. 6. “But when it’s actually you and you’re dealing with all the harsh comments, it’s a whole different story.”
“They’re very disturbing and hurtful,” VanPevenage recalls of the comments. “After this picture was posted and I read all the comments, I lost all my confidence…But I’ve realized that people’s opinions don’t matter to me and everyone should feel beautiful in their natural skin and it doesn’t matter what’s on the outside…the only thing that matters is who you really are.”
VanPevenage was applauded on YouTube, with commenters calling her “beautiful” and telling her to “keep [her] head up.”
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