Mom Speaks Out After Photo Of Her Son Becomes Cruel Internet Meme

Earlier this year, Ashley VanPevenage was having skin troubles and wanted to cover them up. But the 20-year-old college student had no idea that photos of her face before and after — which a friend posted on Instagram —  would turn into an Internet meme. 

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VanPevenage told BuzzFeed that she was having an allergic reaction to benzoyl and needed help covering her blemishes. But a few days after the photo was posted to Instagram, a Texas State University student tweeted it and said, "I don't understand how people can do this and I can't figure out how to conceal a single pimple on my face." That post was then tweeted by two parody accounts, @SoDamnTrue and @KardashianReact. Between the three different accounts, VanPevenage's photo ended up getting retweeted over 14,000 times. 

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This week, VanPevenage posted a video to YouTube to respond to the memes and explained what it did to her self-esteem. She starts by saying that she admits she always was a huge fan of Internet memes, but once she understood what it was like to be the subject of one, her feelings changed.

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> YouTube

VanPevenage said that before her photo went viral, she had always felt really comfortable going out in public. Then she started reading people's comments about her face.

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She said there were thousands and thousands of comments that were "very disturbing and nasty." VanPevenage reads three comments out loud, including one from a guy who said he would never want to see her before 10 a.m., which she described as "pretty hurtful." Another commenter said, "Maybe if she didn't wear so much makeup and actually got some sun on her face and let her skin breathe she wouldn't have such a bad acne problem," which VanPeyenage shut down after reading; she said she's used different methods to treat her acne before and that comment didn't make sense. 

> YouTube

VanPevenage said she didn't want to leave the house without her makeup or hair done — that was how much the comments impacted her self-esteem. 

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> YouTube

Eventually, VanPevenage said she learned that the opinions of commenters don't matter, and it's how you feel and who you are on the inside that matter. 

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> YouTube

At the end of her video, VanPevenage says she hopes this video helps girls who are struggling in their own skin and with acne. She wants women to feel more confident and offers to be a support system for anyone who is struggling. Watch VanPevenage's full video below. 

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