TACOMA, Wa. – A 20-year-old college student is speaking out after discovering a picture of her face had turned into a hateful viral meme.
Ashley VanPevenage told BuzzFeed that she asked her make-up artist friend for help covering up her acne after she had an allergic reaction to benzoyl.
Her friend then posted the before and after pics to her Instagram account.
A few days later, a Texas University student stole the photo and posted it to her Twitter account 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.”
I don't understand how people can do this and I can't figure out how to conceal a single pimple on my face pic.twitter.com/UiIvvagAvL
— Virginia (@virtuallyvivi) February 9, 2015
Other social media users also began using the picture and the caption on their own accounts.
The photo went viral and inspired copycats, BuzzFeed reports.
The image was even included in a viral list of “women you need to take swimming on the first date.”
Eight months after the picture was posted, VanPevenage decided to respond to the hateful comments.
“Some days I will read through the comments and just see how cruel people can be,” VanPevenage said in her YouTube video.
Although the negative comments are hurtful, VanPevenage says it won’t stop her from liking herself.
“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.”