Lizzie Velasquez has faced ridicule her entire life. She was born with neonatal progeroid syndrome – which caused her eyes, bones and heart to develop abnormally. This disease often causes sufferers to appear older than they actually are, with a tendency to have difficulties gaining and maintaining weight. Think Robin Williams in “Jack“. Lizzie has beaten the odds at every turn. Most people born with this syndrome live only into their teens and their 20’s.
She has faced severe bullying because of her condition, like in a YouTube video where she was called “the ugliest woman in the world” at age 17. The video was posted without her knowledge by some asshat-class-clown, and was viewed over four million times. And the comment section was full of ugly, hateful words, like the people who said that the world would be a better place without her in it. No one defended her in the comments. She was torn apart, disrespected, and laughed at because of a condition she has no control over.
After spending some time reflecting on the situation, she decided that the experience wasn’t going to snuff her spirit – not by a long shot. She created her own YouTube channel where she shares positive messages with the world. Lizzie has even hosted her own TEDx talk about self-perception, and will soon be featured in an upcoming documentary about her own life named “A Brave Heart”. It will be in theaters September 25th.
She has devoted her life to proving those who criticized her wrong, and has become a motivational speaker as well as a published author. I’ll bet her classmates haven’t been quite so successful.