At only 25, Lizzie Velaquez is a motivational speaker, the subject of an upcoming documentary and author. In her viral TedX Talk, How Do YOU Define Yourself , Lizzie asks the audience to consider what defines them, and whether they’re going to choose to give up in the face of negativity from others, or whether they’re going to choose to be happy.
After finding a video on Youtube which called her the ugliest woman in the world, Lizzie decided she was not going to let someone who had never met her, bully her – much less, define her.
Lizzie has an extremely rare syndrome that prevents her from gaining weight, and she’s never weighed more than 68 pounds in her life. Velasquez is not interested in a possible cure for her syndrome.
“No, there is no way, I wouldn’t even consider it,” Velasquez said. “If you had asked me that question when I was 13, I’d probably have said yes. I’d be all for it, I’d do the trial, whatever. But if you ask me that now, I’ve learned and I’ve come such a long way to be able to accept who I am and own who I am that, if I changed anything about me I wouldn’t be Lizzie, I wouldn’t be true to myself.”
Bullying, both in person and online, is something that people with disabilities experience frequently, and that can be very traumatizing. Lizzie credits her family, who was determined to give her as typical an upbringing as possible, even though doctors told her parents not to expect that she’d ever to do anything for herself, with giving her the strength to decide how she was going to let this extreme bullying affect her.
We need to take drastic steps to stop bullying in all its forms and we need to teach people who are being bullied ways to deal with it. Lizzie is a great example of how people who are being bullied can turn the situation around to produce good outcomes.
See more photos of Lizzie, her supporters, and her work on Instagram at The Lizzie Project.