Beautiful. Resilient. Inspirational. Lizzie Velasquez.
Lizzie was born with a medical condition that only two other people in the world are known to have—she has no body fat. As a result, she has never weighed more than 64 pounds and has to consume small meals every hour.
When Lizzie was in high school, someone posted an eight-second-long video of her on YouTube titled “The World’s Ugliest Woman.” The video instantly went viral, gaining over four million views and an equally large number of severe put-downs. Popular among them were “please do the world a favor and put a gun to your head and kill yourself” and “kill it with fire.”
Is this really what our society has devolved into? Is a person really just represented by their physical appearance? Do we really let this happen without a word of protest?
Lizzie wouldn’t stand for it. Within a few days, she emerged from her confines, standing tall with a smile on her face, ready to conquer all the hate coming her way. She relied on her parents, she leaned on her friends, but most importantly, she stuck by herself. Lizzie refused to let others’ criticisms define her. Instead, she “used their negativity to light [her] fire to keep going.”
Instead of lamenting, Lizzie finds things that she loves about herself, like her hair and her friendliness, or advantages that accompany her condition, such as being able to eat whatever she wants whenever she wants.
Flash forward eight years, and Lizzie has graduated from Texas State University with a major in communication studies and a minor in English. She has established herself as a motivational speaker and written three books detailing her experiences and what she has learned from them.
We too have much to learn from this remarkable woman who has emerged victorious after a tryst with agony.
First, our outer appearances do not account for our personality, our intellect, our character, or any of those intangible concepts that matter the most.
Second, we must never let others’ unsolicited disparagement affect us negatively. Believe in yourself, your potential, and your goals.
Finally, we must not judge anyone but ourselves. The judgment we pass is nothing but a reflection of our own insecurities.
Lizzie Velazquez is a hero who is opening our eyes, showing us how to take criticism in stride, and inspiring us with each painful retelling of her story.
Lizzie is truly beautiful.
Anika Mohindra is currently a high school sophomore from the Bay Area. She is a foodie, an aspiring writer, a fashion enthusiast, and a tech girl. She especially likes math and computer science and thinks that more girls should give STEM subjects a try.