Imagine waking up one day to millions of hate comments making you feel like the ugliest girl on the planet? Meet 21 year-old Ashley VanPevenage. She may be best known for her cruel meme that was shared over 6 million times globally. VanPevenage is now taking her negative experience to the next level by starting an anti cyberbullying campaign called #CureTheHate. Her goal is to put an end to cyber bullying and cruelty based coments on appearance.
VanPevenage has recently become the advocate of the “Roast Me”trend, the latest cyberbullying trend in which young women ridicule young males online until they “crack.” VanPevenage is working to to break the cycle of any form of cyberbullying.
#CureTheHate has partnered with the Tyler Clementi Foundation and Curology.com, to raise awareness of the cruelty seen in the modern reality of the web. The campaign’s other goal is to bring awareness to acne shaming once and for all.
VanPevanage herself was the subject of a cruel meme on Twitter after a user took an image of her off Instagram. “In January of 2015, a friend of mine who runs a makeup Instagram account (@MakeupByDreigh) asked to do my makeup. I was having an allergic reaction to Benzyl Peroxide at the time and I knew I needed help covering my acne,” VanPenvanage said.
VanPevanage’s before and after image posted on Instagram was made into a meme months later via Twitter user @VirtuallyVivi tweeted it out. In a tweet stating “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 meme went viral with over a million shares and different hateful spins on the image.
“There were hundreds of thousands of shares and horrible comments all shaming me for my acne and appearance. I think the most popular hate comment was “this is the reason you have to take a bitch swimming on the first date,” VanPevanage said.
VanPenvanage’s confidence began to wane due to the meme until she decided to respond back in a YouTube video tiitled “My Response to My Viral Meme,” which again went viral with over 1 million views. VanPevenage takes a look at individual comments by Facebook users and delivers her two cents on the situation.
“People’s opinions don’t matter to me and they shouldn’t matter to anyone,” VanPevenage said. “Everyone should feel beautiful in their natural skin. It doesn’t matter what’s on the outside of your face. The only thing that matters is who you really are.”
VanPevenage eventually spread the #CureTheHate message after Buzzfeed featured her story in an article. The message continue to spread via partnerships with YouTube personalities such as Michelle Phan on her show “Pillow Talk” and beauty guru Jordan Cheyenne. VanPevenage also recieved support on her story on MTV’s “Girl Code” and eventually had her story featured on SyFy’s “The Internet Ruined My Life.”
“Most of the time videos, tweets or photos go viral and then disappear. You don’t really get to hear the story behind how it all happened,” VanPevenage said. “I didn’t want that to happen with my story. I wanted to make a difference to cure the hate and stop cyberbullying.”
VanPevenage also regained her confidence through her journey when Dr. David Lortscher of Curology reached out to her after seeing how severe her acne was. He saw the Buzzfeed article and thought that Ashley could benefit from their custom prescription solutions. Ashley ended up clearing her skin and bringing Curology on as a partner for Cure The Hate.
“I really stand behind what David (Lortcher) is doing for the average person that may not have insurance or the time to see a dermatologist. He’s really making a dent in the industry by offering Curology,” VanPevenage said. “The thing is it really works, trust me, I’ve tried everything. Within 90 days of using Curology, my skin was noticeably clear. Now I use it every day. I had to make some diet changes like no dairy. It’s funny that the very reason (acne) I was ridiculed online is actually what led me to eventually curing the problem!”
After months of research on the reputable anti-cyberbullying foundations Ashley decided to partner with the Tyler Clementi Foundation. Van Pevenage felt a connection to Tyler’s story and wanted to help his family take a stand against cyber bullying and increase #upstander pledge numbers.
The Tyler Clementi Foundation is the only foundation that offers free legal assistance to victims of online harassment. The free legal assistance is provided by The Tyler Clementi Institute of of CyberSafety at New York Law School, working with the school in order to make cyberbullying and other cyber crimes illegal.
Ashley’s message has been making the rounds on Twitter under the hashtag #CureTheHate in hopes for Twitter users to spread the message out there in the same space she was humiliated in. The #CureTheHate hashtag is also being used in other social media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. #CureTheHate has gained support from pop icon Kelly Osbourne, acne activist Cassandra Bankson, celebrity makeup artist Honey B Eileen and, in recent headlines, Playmate of the Year Dani Mathers.