It all started with an 8-second video. No sound—just an image of 11-year-old Lizzie Velasquez.
When Velasquez found it on YouTube in 2006, that 8-second video had amassed four million views and thousands of comments. It was titled “The Ugliest Woman In The World.”
Then 17-year-old Lizzie, who weighs about 60 pounds because of a rare congenital disease that makes it impossible for her to gain weight, scrolled through comment after comment from perfect strangers calling her a monster, questioning why her parents kept her, and encouraging her to put a gun to her head and end her life.
Not a single comment was positive. So Velasquez decided to make it positive.
Now, she’s a recognized hero in the eyes of anyone who’s ever been bullied. A motivational speaker, activist, and author, she takes to the stage across the country encouraging everyone to spin negative comments into fuel to make their lives better.
“Am I going to let the people who called me a monster define me,” she says in a 2013 Ted Talk. “No. I’m going to let my goals, and my successes, and my accomplishments be the things that define me.”
And that’s exactly what she has done. In addition to finishing a degree in communications studies and writing three books, Velasquez is an executive producer of the award-winning documentary that chronicles her life, “A BRAVE HEART: The Lizzie Velasquez Story.”
Although Velasquez’s goal was to become a motivational speaker, she has also stepped up as an impressive anti-bullying activist and is currently working with Congress in support of the first federal anti-bullying bill, the Safe Schools Improvement Act.
To date, her Ted Talk has gathered more than 9.5 million views and 11,000 comments—almost all of which recognize her for what she truly is, beautiful.
Come see Lizzie Velasquez and other inspiring health leaders speaking live at Prevention’s R3 Summit in Austin, TX, Jan. 15-16.