Ashley VanPevenage had her face makeup done in a beauty parlor. The makeup artist captured before and after images and posted them to Instagram. And Just after some days, the before-and-after photos became viral and brewed up a storm of cyber bullying.
VanPevenage, a 21-year-old college student, had been striving with acne and was encountering an allergic reaction to Benzoyl Peroxide at the time of the makeup was done, giving her alteration photos a moving addition to the makeup artist’s Instagram page. The pictures started circling and were soon converted into a malicious meme, getting more than 7 million shares on Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter.
It all started with a tweet by a user, @virtuallyvivi, who titled the pictures, “I don’t understand how people can do this and I can’t figure out how to conceal a single pimple on my face.”
The tweet immediately went across some other social media accounts as well, mostly in support of VanPevenage’s alteration, but, less than a week after the photos’ presence on the web, a tirade of memes pictures and hateful messages started circulating.
The real meme and its consequent versions built an overwhelming appearance across the internet, eventually recognizing VanPevenage as a victim of cyber bullying. In response to the cyber bullying, she posted a video to YouTube called, “My Response to My Viral Meme,” to which she replies, “I wanted to get the message out there and show that there is a real person behind those memes that everyone laughs at. I wanted people to know that I wasn’t going to let the horrible comments or negativity get to me.”
In the year since her experience with cyber bullying, VanPevenage teamed up with Dr. David Lortcher of Curology to find a treatment for her acne and retrieve her pride. As part of her particular mission to take a stand facing online bullying and hate-based criticisms, VanPevenage started a campaign called #CureTheHate, in connection with The Tyler Clementi Foundation and Curology.
GOOD Magazine recently had the opportunity to ask VanPevenage questions about how her life changed since her encounter with cyber bullying and learn more about #CureTheHate.
Here are some snippets from GOOD Magazine’s interview with VanPevenage.
Question: How has life changed for you since launching #CureTheHate?
Answer: I think #CureTheHate has given me a new purpose. Even though what I went through was bad, I now know that I can help others through my experience. Some pretty amazing opportunities came to me: I re-established my self-confidence once my acne began to clear. I was also approached by the SyFy channel for the show, “The Internet Ruined My Life.” SyFy gave me a new platform to share my story with others who may relate to being [bullied online]. Not many people get those types of opportunities through struggle and public humiliation — I know I’m one of the lucky ones. I am now devoted to breaking the cycle of cyberbullying to further prevent this type of experience happening to others. The new “Roast Me” trend proves that cyberbullying has many faces and is not biased against age, color, race or gender.
Question: When you were at your lowest point, what helped pull you out of it?
Answer: My lowest point was when I saw the first tag on Facebook. I couldn’t believe people could be so cruel. These people didn’t even know me. I didn’t do this to myself, or to promote my YouTube, or whatever people do to make headlines with these types of stories. I was really just wanting to cover my acne and wanted a makeup artist to show me how to cover my acne.
Question: What message would you deliver to your bullies if you had the chance to speak to them face-to-face?
Answer: Love you first. #CureTheHate and start with yourself… Every person on earth is precious and has a purpose. If you are too ignorant to understand just how amazing human life is, you’ll never live past your social media account.
You can find more interview questions here: Good magazine