American motivational speaker, anti-bullying activist and author, Lizzie Velasquez was dubbed the ‘World’s Ugliest Woman” in a video posted on YouTube when she was 17. She has a rare congenital disease which among other symptoms, prevents her from accumulating body fat. The condition resulted in bullying during her childhood and early youth.
The 27-year-old from Austin, Texas, who has spoken out against bullying, was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome by the Baylor College of Medicine. She has zero percent body fat and is medically unable to gain weight. Additionally, she is blind in in her right eye and vision-impaired in her left eye. Doctors told her parents, at birth that she would never speak or walk. The doctors were wrong. In fact, at 27, she does both professionally. HuffPost described her as a “seasoned motivational speaker and a “self-professed pacer” while she speaks on stage”
“There were many times where I was so frustrated and angry. I didn’t know who to blame or who to get angry at. I made every birthday wish, I lit every candle at church and did every prayer before bed. I said ‘God, please take this all away from me. Please make me normal,” Velasquez told the crowd during one of her speaking engagements last year.
Velasquez has written two books, ‘Be Beautiful, Be You and ‘Choosing Happiness’ directed towards teenagers, which share personal stories from her life and offer advice and talks about obstacles she has faced in her life and how she’s learned the importance of choosing to be happy when it’s all too easy to give up.
Growing up in Texas, Velasquez was teased, gawked at or sometimes downright ignored. She remembers her first day of kindergarten and noticing for the first time in her life that other kids were scared of her. She went home and asked her parents what was wrong with her.
“I credit my parents’ answer with why I’m able to do what I do today,” she said to HuffPost. When I asked them what was wrong with me they said there’s nothing wrong with you. The only difference is that you’re smaller than the other kids. They told me we are going to love you and support you and help you reach every dream you have,” she added.
Her parents treated her like everyone else. But the world did not. Velasquez remembers going to amusement parks and feeling like an attraction. Groups of adults would stop mid-conversation and stare at her. She refused to go to water parks because she couldn’t stand to be in a bathing suit in public.
A documentary film based on her life which is entitled A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story, premiered at SXSW last year and is set to premiere on Lifetime on October 17th, 2016. The optimistic young woman took to Instagram five days ago to write about the birth of the documentary.
“I still remember the day we hung up giant post it notes on a wall and brainstormed what would be needed to bring @abraveheartfilm life. I remember our cheers of happiness as each of you gave so generously of your time and money to help our team. I remember the day we realized this project was so much larger than us. I want to congratulate not only our Brave Heart team but everyone who has watched, shared, and helped give a voice to those who needed the help. On October 17th at 8pm PT/ET, our documentary will make its television debut on @lifetimetv! Here’s to us remembering the day we helped bring awareness to the possibility of coming out on the other side of bullying”
Source: Lizzie Velasques/Instagram, Wikipedia, additional information from Huff Post.