Being labeled the “World’s Ugliest Woman” has allowed 24-year-old Lizzie Velasquez to reach thousands with her message of redefining what is beautiful.
Velasquez once made headlines after being dubbed the “World’s Ugliest Woman” due to a rare syndrome, one that is so rare that there are only two other known people who suffer from it.
The Texas native suffers from Neonatal Progeroid Syndrome, a condition that causes accelerated aging and fat loss. The illness has prevented the 58-pound woman from gaining weight, despite eating about 60 small meals a day and has caused blindness in her right eye.
When Velasquez was in high school, she discovered an eight second video of herself on YouTube titled “World’s Ugliest Woman.” The video garnered millions of views and comments. Perhaps one of the most hurtful was one who told her to “put a gun to her head and kill herself,” according to IB Times. But this only motivated Velasquez to rise up against cyber bullying.
Years later, she has become an author and motivational speaker. At a TEDX talk in Austin, she shared her experiences with viewers and talked about deciding to turn the negativity into ambition.
“I’ve had a really difficult life, but that’s OK,” she said. “I’m going to let my goals and my success and my accomplishments define me, not my outer appearance.”
With that, Velasquez asks the crowds she talks to, “What defines you?”
“It’s not easy, I will be the first to tell you it’s not easy,” she said in interview with HLN, according to the Christian Post. “I may have this outer exterior of people saying, ‘She can handle everything, she’s dealt with this for so long,’ and to be honest, I’m human and of course these things are going to hurt,” she said.
Velasquez has appeared on multiple television programs and written three books, including, “Be Beautiful, Be You.”
Sources: Huffington Post, IB Times, Christian Post