Cassandra Bankson, a 19-year-old model who once wouldn’t leave her house due to the severe acne on her face, is using her makeup know-how to help others. She overcame the embarrassment of her acne with simple foundation techniques, and now, her YouTube videos have nearly 6.5 million views.
Bankson spoke with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie about her transformation from a reclusive teenager to a self-made model.
“I wasn’t talking to friends and family,” she said. “I would do homework, play with my cats, and essentially learn how to put on makeup, and a lot of trial and error really got me there.” When Bankson started her videos she was completing high school as independent study, since the bullying she'd endured at school from her acne was so severe she could not attend classes.
Bankson credits makeup for helping her to break out of her isolation. She said that after so much time spent hiding, it was a challenge to show the entire world her face.
“I was crying before I filmed the video and it didn’t go up for four months until after I filmed it," she said. "I always wanted to help people but it wasn’t until my boyfriend actually told me, 'You’ve always wanted to help people. This is how you can do it; it’s your duty.'”
Once the video was posted, it took her another five months to check the comments. “I thought the comments would be just as cruel as they were in school,” she said. “I thought for one girl or one guy it would be worth it but I didn’t want to see the negativity and I came back and I was overwhelmed.” Commenters applauded her bravery. Wrote one user: “You do realize that even without a smidgeon of makeup on, you’re still beautiful, right?”
What began with one video has turned into daily uploads, where Bankson posts videos to help others with makeup, acne and other embarrassing problems. “Confidence is beauty, essentially," she said. "You can’t have one without the other. And I think that makeup is a way for women to feel confident until they overcome whatever insecurities they have so they can be beautiful with or without.”
Millions of views later, she is living her dream of helping others.
“It’s still unreal,” she said.
TODAY.com contributor Jillian Eugenios wants to give Cassandra Bankson a high-five.