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 / Updated  / Source: TODAY
By Alexandra Zaslow

When Isabella Gaines was shamed online for how she looked without wearing makeup, she decided to stand up for what she believes in — and learned how beautiful people can truly be in the process.

On June 30, a Twitter account that posts photos of contestants from the North Carolina Outstanding Teen Pageant contest without makeup uploaded these side-by-side photos of Gaines with and without makeup. The caption said: “This is the same person in both pics, amazing what makeup can do.”

“I was incredibly hurt, but I wanted to turn it into something positive and let them know I’m happy in my own skin,” Gaines, 16, told TODAY.com.

The pageant queen from Wilmington, North Carolina, who was crowned Miss Greater Port City’s Outstanding Teen this year, posted an Instagram in response, hoping to get her message — that being yourself is beautiful — across.

“Tonight I received a Twitter notification that directed me to a tweet I found to be offensive and degrading,” Gaines wrote. “I used to be very insecure about how I looked without makeup, but I am comfortable in my own skin and have accepted I am not flawless because I know I'm made in God's image.”

The next day, Gaines was overwhelmed by how much support she received. Fellow pageant contestants from North Carolina started tweeting pictures of themselves before and after makeup with the hashtag #NoMakeupSelfie.

It wasn’t long before pageant contestants from around the world were getting in on the action. Eventually Gaines joined in too.

Even Miss America Kira Kazantsev shared her no-makeup selfie in support of Gaines.

“It’s kind of crazy how it all happened,” Gaines said. “I really hope that I’ve changed people’s lives and encouraged others to want to take a stand.”

Through all this, Gaiens said she has even made some friends that she hopes to visit in New York and California when she gets a chance.

“Makeup is just an accessory and it’s fun to change up your style a bit," she said. "But beauty comes from your heart."