Lizzie Velasquez made a name for herself fighting against internet bullies, but it's not so easy.
Lizzie Velasquez first hit the internet when she was 17 years old in a video a stranger posted of her called, “The World’s Ugliest Woman.” But it was her response that really caught people’s attention.
Velasquez gave a TEDTalk on how she defines herself, which has now had over 4 million views. She went on to became a motivational speaker known for her messages about beauty and identity. She shared her story of finding self-confidence while living with a syndrome that only two people in the world are known to have. The syndrome (neonatal progeroid syndrome) affects her eyes, bones, and heart, making her unable to gain weight, and, as a result, she has never weighed over 69 pounds.
But the fight wasn’t over. Velasquez still suffered from self-imposed pressures of being a role model and living up to the image that she portrays on stage. Eventually, the stress got the better of her. “I had to be their superhero. I had to be their role model. So I didn’t have time to take care of me,” she said. “Even looking back now, it’s a miracle that I’m still here.”
Now, she’s going beyond her usual message to talk about identity in a new way. She says that coming back from such a dark place has only made her stronger and more compassionate. She says, “Please, listen when I tell you, I’ve been in your shoes. I’m telling you, people in this world care about you. And people in this world are waiting to see the incredible things that you are going to accomplish.”
You can hear her tell the full story below.