Sometimes in our lives, we feel small because of other’s hurtful comments. While some of us shrug it off and let it pass, others take it to themselves, making them feel depressed and sad.
Despite her differences, Lizzie Velasquez isn’t allowing any negativities bring her down. At a young age, Lizzie was diagnosed with a condition that made her unable to gain weight. Although her condition isn’t fatal, she still has a weak immune system. She is also blind in one eye. Because of her unusual condition, she looks physically different than the rest, which caused her to be bullied frequently.
These days, people who look different have always been the target of bullies. One example is Ciera Swaringen. All her life, she was bullied because of the birthmarks that cover her whole body. But thankfully, when she decided to finally embrace her new look, many individuals were inspired.
As for Lizzie, when she was in high school, she saw a video of herself on YouTube. It was posted by a stranger and was titled “World’s Ugliest Woman.” Although it lasted for only eight seconds, it amassed more than 4 million views and plenty of negative comments. There was a user who said that her parents should have aborted her. Another said she should just have killed herself.
Nevertheless, Lizzie remained strong. In 2014, she gave a viral speech in front of a large crowd. It was her response to that video and to all her bullies.
Her speech went like this:
I was born with this very, very rare syndrome that only two other people in the world, including myself that we know of, have. Basically, what this syndrome causes is that I cannot gain weight.
When I was in college, I hid. Well, I didn’t hide . . . it was . . . everyone knew I was there, but it was a giant tub of Twinkies, donuts, chips, skittles, and my roommate would say, ‘I could hear you at 12:30 reaching under your bed to get food.’
I was my parents’ first child, and when I was born, the doctors told my mom, ‘Your daughter has no amniotic fluid around her, at all.’ So when I was born, it was a miracle that I came out screaming. The doctors told my parents, ‘We just want to warn you, expect your daughter to never be able to talk, walk, crawl, think, or do anything by herself.’
The first thing they told the doctor was, ‘We want to see her, and we are going to take her home and love her and raise her to the best of our abilities,’ and that’s what they did.
I credit pretty much everything that I’ve done in my life to my parents.
For so long, I thought what defined me was my outer appearance. I thought that my little tiny legs and my little arms and my little face was ugly. I thought I was disgusting. I hated when I would wake up in the morning when I was going to middle school and looking in the mirror getting ready and thinking can I just scrub this syndrome off. It would make my life so much easier if could just scrub it off. I could look like the other kids, I wouldn’t have to buy clothes that had Dora the Explorer on it. I wouldn’t have to buy stuff that was bedazzled when I was trying to be like the cool kids.
I would wish and pray and hope and do whatever I could to pray that I would wake up in the morning and I would be different and I wouldn’t have to deal with these struggles. It’s what I wanted every single day, and every single day, I was disappointed.
Think, think about that. If people did, if people told you that, strangers told you this. I cried my eyes out of course, and I was ready to kind of fight back and something kind of clicked in my head and I thought, I’m just going to leave it alone.
I kind of started realizing that my life is in my hands. I could either choose to make this really good or I can choose to make this really bad. I could either be grateful and open my eyes and realize the things that I do have and make those the things that define me. I can’t see out of one eye, but I can see out of the other. I might get sick a lot, but I have really nice hair.
I started realizing, am I going to let the people who called me a monster, define me? Am I going to let the people who said, ‘Kill it with fire,’ define me? No. I’m going to let my goals and my success and my accomplishments be the things that define me, not my outer appearance, not the fact that I’m visually impaired, not the fact that I have this syndrome that nobody knows what it is.
So I told myself I’m going work my butt off and do whatever I could to make myself better, because in my mind, the best way that I could get back at all those people who made fun of me, who teased me, who called me ugly, who called me a monster, was to make myself better and to show them you know what, tell me those negative things, I’m going to turn them around and I’m going to use them as a ladder to climb up to my goals. That’s what I did.
I told myself I wanted to be a motivational speaker, I want to write a book, graduate college, have my own family, my own career. Eight years later, I’m standing in front of you still doing motivational speaking. First thing I accomplished is I wanted to write a book. In a couple of weeks, I will be submitting the manuscript for my third book.
I worked my butt off. I used the people who were telling me that I couldn’t do this to motivate me. I used their negativity to light my fire to keep going, use that, use that, use that negativity that you have in your life to make yourself better, because I guarantee you, guarantee you, you will win.
Now I want to end with asking you again, I want you to leave here and ask yourself, What defines you? But remember, brave starts here. Thank you.”
Lizzie delivered this speech last 2014. Since then, her bullies never said anything again. She has been defying all bullies to inspire others. In fact, she has already three books published, namely, Lizzie Beautiful: The Lizzie Velasquez Story, Be Beautiful, Be You, as well as Choosing Happiness.
Recently this year, the documentary titled A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story premiered, and from her story, people can learn that one must be careful with what they do to people who are different from them. You would never really know what stories they hide. They might just eventually become today’s most inspiring people.