Watch the subject of a cruel viral meme fight back in this video

You no longer have to ask for people’s opinion – thanks to the Internet, they’re just volunteered, and thanks to the virtual promise of impunity, they’re often none too kind. As if the digital age hasn’t given us reason enough to be self-conscious about our appearances, one woman found that a before and after photograph of her face launched a cruel online tirade with thousands of social media users making her, a complete stranger, the butt of their jokes. But now, 20-year-old Ashley VanPevenage, a student at Washington College, is speaking out and fighting back, and very importantly, reminding Internet users everywhere that there is often a real person on the other side of the screen.

My regular 😘❤️

A photo posted by @makeupbydreigh on

It all started in January when a friend of VanPevenage’s, a makeup artist, posted a photograph of the 20-year-old to her Instagram account. On the left side is VanPevenage sans makeup with an allergic reaction to benzoyl. As she explained to BuzzFeed news, “I knew I needed help to cover my acne.” She went to her talented friend, who not only covered her acne, but gave her a stunning makeup session to boot. And while the photo was clearly intended to simply highlight the artist’s talents, it was quickly repurposed in a much less flattering manner.

A few days after the photo was first posted to Instagram, a Twitter user tweeted the photo 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.” And from there, things really got out of hand.

Retweeted thousands upon thousands of times, VanPevenage and the once innocuous photograph became the butt of “women you need to take swimming on the first date” jokes. Someone wrote, “I’ll spend time with her, as long as I never see her before 10am,” and another suggested that her photo was a porn star’s before and after.

Finally, on Tuesday, the college student put her face behind the face, and took to YouTube to address the hurtful comments she’s received over the last several months. The video, entitled, “My Response to My Viral Meme,” has received over 750,000 views.

“Some days I will read through the comments and just see how cruel people can be,” VanPevenage said. “Luckily, my family hasn’t had to deal with any harassment, it has just been me.” Hopeful that her own story will serve as an inspiration or at least provide a sense of camaraderie for others who have experienced or are experiencing cyberbullying, she continued, “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.”

Social Media

Periscope tool adds guests to feeds so streamers can become talk show hosts

Periscope users can now invite viewers to chime into the conversation with more than just the comment tool. By enabling the option to add guests, livestreamers can add guests to the conversation, in audio format only.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in February, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to 'Roma'

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (February 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

The first reactions to Captain Marvel are out of this world

Academy Award winner Brie Larson will play Captain Marvel in the upcoming Marvel Studios movie hitting theaters in March 2019. Here's everything we know about Marvel's first female-led superhero movie.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Legion'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Photography

Crouching, climbing, and creeping, the perfect Instagram shot knows no bounds

Just how far will you go for the perfect Instagram? A recent survey shows just how willing Instagram users -- and Instagram husbands -- are to climb, lie down, embarrass themselves or let their food go cold for the perfect shot.
Social Media

Facebook’s long-promised ‘unsend’ feature arrives. Here’s how to use it

Send a message to the wrong person? Messenger now gives you 10 minutes to take it back. After an update beginning to roll out today, users can now retract messages if they act within the first 10 minutes after sending the message.
Social Media

YouTube boss admits even her own kids gave the ‘Rewind’ video a thumbs down

YouTube's 2018 Rewind video went down like a lead balloon at the end of last year, becoming the most disliked video in its history. And now YouTube's CEO has admitted that even her own kids thought it was pretty darn awful.
Social Media

Snapchat finally recovers from its redesign — so here comes an Android update

Snapchat's drop in users after launching a controversial redesign has finally stagnated. During the fourth quarter and 2018 earnings report, Snapchat shared that the company is rolling out an Android update designed to increase performance.
Social Media

Skype’s new ‘blur background’ feature could help keep you from blushing

Skype's latest feature for desktop lets you blur your background during video calls. The idea is that it keeps you as the focus instead of distracting others with whatever embarrassing things you might have on show behind you.
Social Media

Twitter users are declining but more people are seeing ads every day

Twitter's end-of-the-year report for 2018 is a mix of good and bad news. The good news is that more users are seeing adds daily, the metric the company will focus on moving forward. But the bad news is that monthly active users are…
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Computing

YouTube beats Apple, Netflix as the most trusted brand by millennials

The popular video sharing website YouTube climbed up in an annual Mblm study, moving up from third place in 2018 and coming ahead of both Apple and Netflix in final 2019 rankings. 
Social Media

LinkedIn finally gets around to launching its own live video tool

Live video is coming to LinkedIn for businesses and individuals on the site. The livestreaming feature is launching in beta in the U.S. before rolling out to the entire community.