NORFOLK – The victim of cyber-bullying, namely in the form of a YouTube video called “World’s Ugliest Girl”, Lizzie Velasquez has overcome cruelty in extraordinary fashion.
The victim of cyber-bullying, namely in the form of a YouTube video called “World’s Ugliest Girl,” Lizzie Velasquez has overcome cruelty in extraordinary fashion.
Now, she is an accomplished motivational speaker and author who spoke to Old Dominion University students last Wednesday, Feb. 27, with her message, “Be Beautiful, Be You” and that beauty is only skin deep and outward appearances don’t define a person.
Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Velasquez is a twenty-three year old woman weighing only sixty pounds. She suffers from an undiagnosed syndrome that only affects two other people in the world. Her body cannot store any fat, cannot build muscle, and she is blind in her left eye. She has never allowed her size or appearance to define her.
It started with the YouTube video that went viral. Running only eight seconds, without audio, the video has over 4 million views, which generated thousands of comments, all of them cruel and mean spirited. She said the comments ranged from “People telling me that I should kill myself” to, “This world would be better if you were gone.” The comments really captured her attention and there was not one positive word spoken about her. She could not fathom how people could say such mean things when they did not know her at all.
Her sadness morphed into anger. Velasquez wanted to get back at the thousands of people who said cruel things about her. A true victim of cyber-bullying, she looked to overcome the obstacles that faced her. She said there were three things that helped her. “The three things that allowed me to get through it all were my faith, family, and friends.” Since she has learned to focus her energy into complete positivity, her faith has grown immensely stronger, her family is always there to support her, and her friends have been there every step of the way.
Her retaliation came in rare form, and involved numerous interviews, television appearances, radio shows, magazine articles, film documentaries, and two published books. Fame reached her overnight, almost as quickly as the initial ridicule had spread on YouTube. She was the victim of a cruel label, “The World’s Ugliest Girl,” and used her cyber-bullying nightmare to transform herself into a motivational speaker and author.
Her first book, “Lizzie Beautiful,” is a true story that shares all the obstacles she has overcome throughout her life. She offers readers insight into how difficult it can be for an unattractive person to live in a world that focuses so much on looks. She encourages her readers to see the positive side of all situations. During her speech, Velasquez told the audience how, “You always have to cancel the negative out with the positive. If someone says something mean to me, I look in the mirror and say, ‘Wow I’m having a really great hair day today’.” It’s as simple as that, and that is how her confidence grew stronger each day. Her second book, “Be Beautiful, Be You,” shares advice on how to build up one’s self-esteem and take pride in being unique. She emphasizes how everyone is different in this world, but each person has a different purpose.
Velasquez uses her disease to help define her purpose in life; being motivational to others. She is used to having people stare at her in public and has learned to walk with her head held high because, “I know that my disease is a blessing.” Because of the opportunities that resulted from her story, she is able to go outside without shame. She is proud to be the way she is.
“I have a level of self-confidence that I never imagined I would have in a million years,” said Velasquez.
She has had the opportunity to travel all across the country, giving speeches from New York to California. Lizzie continues to travel and share her story with anyone interested, while providing motivational advice and writing her third book.
By: Jamie Hughes