t one point or another, every single one of us will be made to feel small by someone else’s hurtful comments. Most of us can shrug it off and move on; however, for those who deal with persistent bullying, the negativity can be overwhelming, diminishing, and depressing.

Lizzie Velasquez isn’t one of those people. Lizzie has a conditional that makes her unable to gain any weight. She has 0 percent body fat and weighs 64 pounds. Her condition is not terminal, although she has a weak immune system and is blind in one eye.

The rare condition makes her appear different than most people, which caused her to be bullied relentlessly. People who look different often become the targets of ruthless bullies; another woman who comes to mind is Ciera Swaringen. She was bullied her entire life due to birthmarks that cover her entire body; after years, she finally embraced her unique look and is now inspiring thousands.

When Lizzie was in high school she found a video of herself on Youtube posted by a stranger. The video was eight seconds long and titled “World’s Ugliest Woman.” There was nothing else. The video had over 4 million views and hundreds of negative comments.

One of the commenters said her parents should have aborted her, another said she should just kill herself.

In 2014, Lizzie gave a viral speech in front of hundreds of people. It was her response to bullies, to that video, to the people who told her she was better off dead.

“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 cloths 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.”

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“When I was in high school I found a video, unfortunately that somebody posted of me, labeling me the world’s ugliest woman. There were four million views to this video, eight seconds long, no sound, thousands of comments. People saying, Lizzie, please, please just a do the world of favor, put a gun to your head and kill yourself.”“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.Screen-Shot-2015-08-28-at-12.26.54-PM-600x392 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

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“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 gave this speech one year ago. Since then? Well, her bullies are — as they say — eating crow. Lizzie has published three books Lizzie Beautiful: The Lizzie Velásquez Story, Be Beautiful, Be You, and Choosing Happiness. In March, 2015 she premiered her documentary A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velásquez Story. 

Be careful who you bully, they just might become an absolute shining star!

Watch Lizzie’s full speech in the video below!

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