## World’s Ugliest Woman: Her Inspiring Story And Impact

 Lizzie Velasquez was born different. When you look at her, you notice it right away, and she has experienced a radically different life than most other people. She was born with a rare genetic disorder that greatly affects her appearance and health. She is only one of three people in the entire world that have the genetic disorder. Besides all the health effects, surgeries, and daily pain she experiences, there is an entire other element to the story. Growing up, Lizzie was bullied daily. The things her peers called her were incredibly cruel and inappropriate. Can you imagine what she must have felt like being bullied, stared at and spoken to rudely every single day of her life?

The story doesn’t stop there. Lizzie was not only bullied, but cyberbullied. While any bullying is unacceptable and can result in suicide for its victims, cyberbullying is on another level. Normal bullying is face to face and it can stop for example when you leave school. Cyberbullying is 24 hours a day 7 days a week and is not limited to geographic location. Also, what people write and comment stays forever. Cyberbullying can also be seen by the friends, family, classmates and within the community the victim lives, making it even worse. These days , is seems like both kinds of bullying is not only getting worse, but resulting in more and more young people taking their own lives. Around 1/3 students report they have experienced bullying during one academic school year. 15% of students stated they have been cyberbullied. 2/9 students who have been cyberbullied contemplates suicide. May victims live a life of shame, and don’t report the incident to anyone wither it is their parents or an educator at their school. Many victims feel embarrassing, ashamed, and alone. Many feel like things will never change and attempt or commit suicide because there is no other way to end the harassment.

So, Lizzie Velasquez stumbled upon a YouTube video of herself titled “the ugliest woman in the world” when she was only 17 years old. The video completely changed her life. She decided it was her calling to fight back, and help others who have experienced bullying for how they look.

At First Glance..

When you see Lizzie Velasquez for the first time, you obviously notice she’s different. How she looks is inevitably a part of that. She was born with an extremely rare genetic condition which prevents her from gaining weight.

At First Glance

At First Glance

Early Years

She was born Elizabeth Ann Velásquez on March 13, 1989. She was born four weeks prematurely and had a very low birthweight. She weighed only 2 pounds and 10 ounces when she was born. These days she goes by Lizzie.

Early Years

Early Years

Neonatal Progeroid Syndrome

Lizzie Velasquez is one of only three people reported worldwide to have neonatal progeroid syndrome. It is a rare condition that makes it impossible for her to gain weight, causes early aging and has left her blind in one eye.

Neonatal Progeroid Syndrome

Neonatal Progeroid Syndrome

Can’t Gain Weight

Lizzie Velásquez’s condition makes her life very different than others. She is medically unable to gain weight and has never weighed more than 64 lbs. She has almost 0% body fat. She is required to eat throughout the day and averages between 5,000 and 8,000 calories. Despite this, she still is simply unable to gain weight.

Cant Gain Weight

Cant Gain Weight

Vision Problems

Moreover, she is blind in her right eye, which began to cloud over when she was 4. She is also is visually impaired in her left eye.

Vision Problems

Vision Problems

A Life Of Bullying And Health Problems

Throughout her life, she experienced both bullying a number of additional health problems. She had eye surgery, ear surgery, complete foot reconstruction, bone density tests, and a number of blood tests as doctors tried to figure out what her condition was. She lacks energy, has a compromised immune system, and is currently undergoing heart scans to see if there are any other issues.

A Life Of Bullying And Health Problems

A Life Of Bullying And Health Problems

Hardtime As A Teenager

Besides the health issues, bullying became more of an issue as Lizzie grew up. She said, “When I was a teenager I would look in the mirror and wish I could wash away my syndrome.” She explained, “I hated it because it caused so much pain in my life. Being a 13-year-old girl who is constantly picked on is unbearable.”

Hardtime As A Teenager

Hardtime As A Teenager

Abby Solomon

As we mentioned, Lizzie is just one of three people with the condition. In 2015 Lizzie found another woman who had a different variant of the condition. The woman is named Abby Solomon.

Abby Solomon

Abby Solomon

Genetic Mutation

Medical professionals found both women have mutations in the FBN1 gene which is responsible for their condition. The condition is specifically called Marfanoid–progeroid–lipodystrophy syndrome or Marfan lipodystrophy syndrome.

Genetic Mutation

Genetic Mutation

Lizzie Was Bullied Daily Due To Her Disease

Lizzie grew up being called names like “skinny bones,” “pork chop legs” and “grandma.” She often faced questions such as “what is wrong with your face?” and “why do you look like that?” Can you even imagine going through life this way?

She Was Bullied Daily

She Was Bullied Daily

Bullied Daily

Lizzie, unfortunately, became accustomed to being bullied for the way she looks. She was also in and out of the hospital during much of her childhood. She credits her Mexican-American family for giving her the support and strength to rise above all the hate she experienced.

Bullied Daily

Bullied Daily

Family Support

Lizzie stated, “Growing up with that was huge for me because when I would go on holidays and just be with all of my cousins and my aunts and my uncles and everything, they just made me feel like Lizzie.” She continued to explain, “They never treated me differently. They never did anything special for me. They treated me like everyone else, and having that foundation and having that support on both sides of my family, was huge.”

Family Support

Family Support

YouTube Discovery

Nonetheless, when Lizzie was only 17, she was surfing YouTube and came across a clip that changed her life forever. She was just a high school student at this time in 2006.

YouTube Discovery

YouTube Discovery

“The World’s Ugliest Woman”

The clip was entitled “The World’s Ugliest Woman.” Much to her surprise, it was a video of her. She told the Huffington Post the day she found the video was a day she will “never ever forget.”

The Worlds Ugliest Woman

The Worlds Ugliest Woman

The Video Crushed Her

Lizzie stated, “I was crushed. You can imagine how I felt. I was confused, upset, hurt and angry — but then I read the comments.”

The Video Crushed Her

The Video Crushed Her

Taking Bullying To Another Level

While Lizzie sadly was accustomed to being bullied for her looks, the video and comments were extremely, extremely rude and insensitive. When Lizzie read the comments she was overwhelmed and hurt. She stated, “I sat there and read through the comments, and I was so desperate to find someone who had said something positive, but I didn’t.”

Taking Bullying To Another Level

Taking Bullying To Another Level

Nasty Comments

Lizzie stated, “Some commented that I should do the world a favor and put a gun to my head, others asked why didn’t my parents abort me. One person even suggested people will go blind from looking at me because of my ugliness.” Someone else suggested her parents to “kill it with fire.”

Nasty Comments

Nasty Comments

Broken

Lizzie stated at the time she honestly felt broken. The video accumulated four million views and thousands of negative comments. She also had to discuss the video with her family which she found to be uncomfortable and embarrassing.

Broken

Broken

Mean Meme

Besides the video and its comments, a number of meme’s such as this one appeared all over the internet:

Meme

Meme

She Chose To Fight Back

Cyber-bullying is a huge problem. Many teenagers often take their own life as a result. While Lizzie was extremely hurt by the video and being labeled “The World’s Ugliest Woman,” at just 17 she did something amazing. She used this experience to become a YouTube star and motivational speaker. She is still impacting the world by sharing her story and spreading a message of body positivity and anti-bullying.

She Chose To Fight Back

She Chose To Fight Back

She Chose To Fight The Bullies

Instead of dwelling on the video, she used this event to help others and teach her bullies a lesson. In 2006, she started her own YouTube channel to let people know there was a real person behind the “World’s Ugliest Woman” video. She now has about 460,000 subscribers to her channel.

She Chose To Fight The Bullies

She Chose To Fight The Bullies

Body Shaming Meme

Additionally, she fought back against the body shaming meme. She has stated in many interviews before you share a meme, remember there’s an actual person in the photo.

Body Shaming Meme

Body Shaming Meme

We Are All Human

In response to the meme she stated, “No matter what we look like or what size we are, at the end of the day we are all human.” She also said, “I ask that you keep that in mind the next time you see a viral meme of a random stranger. At the time you might find it hilarious but the human in the photo is probably feeling the exact opposite. Spread love not hurtful words via a screen.”

We Are All Human

We Are All Human

She Is Using Her Voice

She stated, “I’ve seen a ton of memes like this all over @facebook recently. I’m writing this post not as someone who is a victim but as someone who is using their voice.” She continued, “Yes, it’s very late at night as I type this but I do so as a reminder that the innocent people that are being put in these memes are probably up just as late scrolling through Facebook and feeling something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.”

She Is Using Her Voice

She Is Using Her Voice

How She Started To Fight Back

After she created her own YouTube channel in response to the video labeling her “The World’s Ugliest Woman,” and she began to upload her own responses. She recorded clips of herself holding cards to describe her feelings and then revealed her face at the end. This helped people around the world realize things they say online do impact real people and it is simply not ok to cyberbully.

Self Made Clips

Self Made Clips

How She Started To Fight Back

That was the launching point for Lizzie. She decided to become a motivational speaker to continue to fight back and empower those who are bullied or ashamed of how they look. She told ABC America, “I completely taught myself everything that I know about speaking via the internet and YouTube.” She said, “I studied speakers’ websites. I studied if they walked which way across the stage. If they had note cards if they had slide shows … Anything I could get my hands on, that’s what I would learn.”

How She Started To Fight Back

How She Started To Fight Back

Motivational Speaker

After Lizzie graduated from Texas State University, she became a motivational speaker. Lizzie became an inspiring anti-bullying advocate and now shares her message all over the world. When she speaks she discusses how she was bullied during her childhood and how thankful she is that her parents and loved ones instilled in her the courage and strength to be herself. Lizzie always asks, “What defines you?” and she tells how she refused to let the perceptions of other people define her.

Motivational Speaker

Motivational Speaker

Author

Lizzie then added “author” to her resume in 2010. She published an autobiography titled “Lizzie Beautiful: The Lizzie Velásquez Story.” The book urges people to accept and love themselves for who they are, not how they look. She published her second book “Be Beautiful, Be You” in 2013.

Author

Author

How Do YOU Define Yourself

Lizzie’s career was then launched to the next level in January of 2014. She gave a TEDxAustinWomen Talk titled “How Do YOU Define Yourself.” It now has over seven million views on YouTube.

How Do YOU Define Yourself

How Do YOU Define Yourself

TedTalk

In the TedTalk she clearly articulated her message, was optimistic, inspiring, and funny! She joked that due to her illness she can eat whatever she wants and that “it’s exactly as good as it sounds.”

TedTalk

TedTalk

Saving Lives

It is without a doubt her story and anti-bullying message has and will continue to save lives. As a result of her Tedx Talk, Lizzie has gained an even bigger following than ever. She also has built a community around her online presence that offers support and guidance to bully victims. Lizzie believes others take comfort knowing they are not alone and are more able to speak, seek help or stand up to bullies when they have support.

Saving Lives

Saving Lives

Fighting For Legislation

Additionally, as a result of her Ted Talk, Lizzie has teamed up with Tina Meier. Tina’s daughter, Megan, took her own life after being bullied online. Lizzie and Tina are working together and are campaigning US Representatives of Congress to vote in favor of an anti-bullying bill. If the bill becomes law, it would mean that all schools would have to start recording every instance of bullying and would be provided with funds to put towards anti-bullying efforts. Nice job, ladies!

Fighting For Legislation

Fighting For Legislation

A Brave Heart

Lizzie Velaquez’s story is the focus of a 2015 documentary titled “A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story.” She stated in the documentary her main goal in life is to spread kindness. The film debuted at the SXSW film festival in Australia.

A Brave Heart

A Brave Heart

A Universal Story

The director of the film, Sara Hirsh Bordo, stated it is not just about Lizzie’s story but is a universal story, for everybody who has been bullied. She explained, “Her experience of triumphing adversity and making it to the other side of a painful experience is universal,” she says. “As soon as Lizzie became more open and honest – whether it was her TED talk or her YouTube videos – it was clear that people were thirsty for a story where somebody stands up and says I’m not going to be a victim, I’m going to make a change.”

A Universal Story

A Universal Story

Her Purpose

Lizzie stated in the film, “I knew this is my purpose, this is what I’m meant to do for the rest of my life, because I like to think that I’m not only telling my story—I’m telling everyone’s story.”

Her Purpose

Her Purpose

The Film Was A Huge Success

The film has won 8 awards at film festivals around the world. It shows Lizzie’s experience as a cyber-bullying victim to becoming an anti-bullying activist. It also shows the emotional journey she underwent that lead up to her 2013 Tedx talk.

The Film Was A Huge Success

The Film Was A Huge Success

Her Life Has Changed

Now a successful motivational speaker, author, and role model, Lizzie’s life dramatically changed. She stated in an interview that for her, “Every day is different. Some days are full of travel to go to speaking events and some days I work from home and film my YouTube videos.”

Her Life Has Changed

Her Life Has Changed

The Biggest Lesson She Learned

When asked in an interview what is the biggest lesson she learned through all of this was she replied, “One of the biggest lessons I had to learn was to stop comparing myself to others. It’s so easy to fall into a hole of doubt but if you stay on top of it and remind yourself of something you do like about yourself, eventually it will become second nature.”

The Biggest Lesson She Learned

The Biggest Lesson She Learned

What Is She Doing Now?

Her most recent book, “Dare To Be Kind,” was published in 2017. It discusses the importance of being kind and her first-hand experience of being bullied in person and online. Moreover, she is still speaking and began starring in her own Fullscreen original series titled “Unzipped” in April 2017.

Dare To Be Kind

Dare To Be Kind

Final Words

While Lizzie has been open about how much the support of her family helped her, she has a message for everyone including those who lack families. Lizzie beautifully stated, “It only takes one person to make a difference. If you have a friend, a relative, or someone at school that you can trust and feel safe with, I’d encourage you to reach out to them.” Lizzie and her story will continue to inspire us and millions of people around the world!

Final Words

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.