"After this picture was posted and I read all these comments, I lost my confidence," Ashley VanPevenage says in a video

By Ana Calderone
Updated October 09, 2015 01:35 PM
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Credit: Courtesy Andreigha Wazy

After a makeup transformation photo of Ashley VanPevenage turned into a cruel meme, the college student decided to fight back.

According to Buzzfeed News, VanPevenage, 20, was having an allergic reaction to benzoyl when she turned to her friend makeup artist Andreigha Wazny to help cover up her acne.

Wazny shared a comparison of VanPevenage with and without makeup on her Instagram account in January. But it wasn’t until Twitter users captioned her photo that it went viral.

“I don’t understand how people can do this and I can’t figure out how to conceal a single pimple on my face,” reads one of the memes.

When the Tacoma Community College student woke up and began reading the “disturbing and nasty comments,” she became self-conscious of her natural skin.

“After this picture was posted and I read all these comments, I lost my confidence,” she says in a response video. “I didn’t like going out in public without makeup or without my hair done.”

But VanPevenage decided to turn her experience into something positive.

“I realized that that isn’t the person I am and people’s opinions don’t matter to me and they shouldn’t matter to anyone,” she said. “Everyone should feel beautiful in their natural skin and it doesn’t matter what’s on the outside of your face. The only thing that matters is who you really are.”

“I hope everyone can gain something from this video,” she added. “I hope that young girls that are dealing with acne, or even adults that are dealing with acne, will feel better and feel confident about their face and who they are.”

And despite the hateful comments Wazny has received since sharing her work on her friend, she says she is “so thankful to be the makeup artist behind this inspirational story.”

“Ashley has taken the best away from the negativity and hopes to use her experience to encourage women to feel confident,” she said in a statement to PEOPLE. “Making people feel confident and beautiful is every makeup artists ultimate goal. It just goes to show how much little change on the outside can make a huge change in someone’s confidence on the inside. Ashley’s a beautiful girl inside and out, makeup or not.”