Lizzie Velásquez, 29, is an American motivational speaker, author, and YouTuber. She was born with an extremely rare congenital disease called Marfanoid–progeroid–lipodystrophy syndrome. Lizzie is 5ft 2in tall and weighs just 27 kg. She is totally blind in her right eye and visually impaired in the other, and was in and out of hospital growing up with a number of health problems – eye surgery, ear surgery, complete foot reconstruction, bone density tests, and a number of blood tests as doctors tried to decipher what her condition was. Now, you must be wondering why I call her ‘one of the most beautiful women in the world’! Well, the reason for me is quite simple and that Lizzie has got an extremely beautiful inner-self. She has proved to those who called ‘the ugliest woman in the world’ that she is the one who can get millions of admirers and die-hard fans by her charming persona. You are sure to fall in love with this girl the minute you see her speaking on stage. She is a fabulous motivational speaker giving you motivation by the examples of her own life challenges. Let’s see how this beautiful woman survived all the tough times of her life.
Lizzie Velásquez lacks energy at times because of her medical condition and takes a long time to recover from infections as normal as bronchitis. She has a recurring problem with her right foot which easily fractures due to a lack of fat on the sole but Lizzie’s strong willpower doesn’t let it get her down. Lizzie was just a 17-year-old teenage girl when she came across a YouTube video entitled “The World’s Ugliest Woman”. She didn’t know that the woman in the video was she herself! It was an eight-second video without sound and had been watched over four million times. “I was shocked,” says Lizzie, “but it wasn’t until I started to read the comments that my stomach really sank.”
“Why would her parents keep her?!” read one of the comments, “kill it with fire,” said another. There were a large number of such hateful comments. One of the commentators went to the extent of suggesting to her that she should do a favor to the world by putting a gun on her head and killing herself. Another commentator said people would go blind if they saw her on the street. Lizzie read every comment with tears in her eye and there were thousands of it.
“I cried for many nights – as a teenager I thought my life was over,” “I couldn’t bring myself to talk to anybody about it, I didn’t tell any of my friends, I was just so shocked that it had happened.” Lizzie Velasquez
During her school days, Lizzie got used to being bullied daily for her looks. “When I was a teenager I would look in the mirror and wish I could wash away my syndrome,” she says. “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.”
When Lizzie Velasquez was born she weighed just 1.2kg and doctors told her parents that, they would have to take care of her for the rest of her life and didn’t know how long she would survive. But her parents, full of instant love for their daughter, just wanted to get her home, to start her life. It’s because of this love that Lizzie gives her parents full credit for her ability to think positively when she was being bullied at school or stared at and mocked on the roads. In her childhood, they asked her to go to school with her head up, smile on her lips, and be nice to everyone, no matter how they treated her. It’s this message of being compassionate that has stuck and she says now that she happily forgives the person who posted that YouTube video nine years ago. “I don’t know what they’re going through,” she says. “While my life may be hard at times, they could be going through something much worse.”
Lizzie Velasquez decided she to make a change. She started her own YouTube channel to let people know who the person behind the “World’s Ugliest Woman” video really was and to teach others they, too, could be confident in their own skin. She says that the community that has built up around her online presence has been amazing, and she sees people posting comments who have been bullied saying she makes them feel able to seek help, speak to somebody, or stand up to the bullies.
Lizzie Velasquez has collaborated with Tina Meier whose daughter Megan took her own life after being bullied online, and together they are campaigning US Representatives of Congress to vote for the first federal anti-bullying bill. 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.
Here some of the valuable life lessons that Lizzie Velasquez gave us in her TED talk.
Only You Define Who You Are
You are the one who knows yourself the best. Don’t allow yourself to be defined by people who tell you that you are not good enough, or that you will never achieve anything in life. Their words do not matter because they don’t know you and your abilities. When people say you are disabled, correct them by saying you are differently-abled.
Make Negativity Your Motivation to do Better
It is always a waste of time to fight fire with fire. Instead of engaging with them to defend yourself, quietly use their harsh words to motivate you to achieve your goals and prove them wrong. Let their unkind words be your fuel for a life of breakthroughs and success.
Make the Best out of Your Circumstances
Lizzie Velasquez has a rare health condition but instead of giving up on life, she has made the best of the circumstances she is in. She has continuously focussed on things she has and can do, instead of pining for the things she does not have and can’t do. Generally, people have a tendency of focusing on the things lacking in their lives. This leads us to compare ourselves with others and wishing we could be like them.
We must recognize our own strengths and use them to change lives both our own and of others. We are all capable of changing destinies, only if we put our hearts and minds to the cause we genuinely believe in.
Surround Yourself with Good People
It is important to surround yourself with positive people who see your true potential, despite your flaws and imperfections and can help you bring out the best in you. We all need people in our lives who can guide us and support us in all circumstances. They can be our pillars of strength when life gets tough. Lizzie Velasquez went on to do better when she discovered inner strength from her supporters and true friends who actually cared for her well-being.
Now, I guess you all would agree with me that Lizzie Velasquez is one of the most beautiful women in the world as you have known how motivating and positive a person she is. She is a Wonderful Woman who is making us all believe in the power of compassion, love, and forgiveness by her own example. Miles to go Lizzie!