Monday, July 7, 2014
I got my revenge through my accomplishments 'World's Ugliest Woman'
ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked
mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but
if you have good thoughts it will shine out of
your face like sunbeams and you will always
look lovely." - Roald Dahl
When she was in high school, Lizzie Velasquez was
dubbed "The World's Ugliest Woman" in an 8-second-
long YouTube video.
Born with a medical condition so
rare that just two other people in the world are
thought to have it, Velasquez has no adipose tissue and
cannot create muscle, store energy, or gain weight. She
has zero percent body fat and weighs just 60 pounds.
In the comments on YouTube, viewers called her "it"
and "monster" and encouraged her to kill herself.
Instead, Velasquez set four goals:
To become a motivational speaker, to publish a book, to graduate
college, and to build a family and a career for herself.
Now 23 years old, she's been a motivational speaker
for seven years and has given more than 200
workshops on embracing uniqueness, dealing with
bullies, and overcoming obstacles. She's a senior
majoring in Communications at Texas State University
in San Marcos, where she lives with her best friend.
Her first book, "Lizzie Beautiful," came out in 2010 and
her second, "Be Beautiful, Be You," was published
earlier this month.
"The stares are what I'm really dealing with in public
right now," she told Dr. Drew Pinsky in an interview
on CNN's Headline News this week. "But I think I'm
getting to the point where… instead of sitting by and
watching people judge me, I'm starting to want to go up
to these people and introduce myself or give them my
card and say, 'Hi, I'm Lizzie. Maybe you should stop
staring and start learning'."
Velasquez was born in San Antonio, Texas; she was
four weeks premature and weighed just 2 pounds, 10
ounces. "They told us they had no idea how she could
have survived," her mother, Rita, 45, told the Daily
Mail. "We had to buy doll's clothes from the toy store
because baby clothes were too big." Doctors warned
Rita and her husband, Lupe, that their oldest child
would never be able to walk or talk, let alone live a
(Her two younger siblings were not
affected by the syndrome.) Instead, she has thrived. Her internal organs, brain,
and bones developed normally, though her body is tiny.
Since she has no fatty tissue in which to store
nutrients, she has to eat every 15 to 20 minutes to have
enough energy to get through the day. One brown eye
started clouding over when she was 4 years old, and
now she's blind in that eye and has only limited sight
in the other.
"Some days life doesn't make sense," she writes in "Be
Beautiful, Be You." "You just have to change what you
can, ask for help and pray about the rest."
She notes her triumphs and posts inspirational
messages on Tumblr, and says that she's learned to
embrace the things that make her unique. Instead of
trying to retaliate against people who have made her
feel badly, she sets goals for herself and pushes herself
to succeed in spite of the haters. She's even reclaimed
YouTube, video blogging about everything from bullying
to hair-styling tips to staying positive.
"I feel really glad that I don't look like the celebrities
out there that are so beautiful,"
she told Dr. Drew.
"There's a lot of stereotypes attached to that." Not
looking like a supermodel "gives people the opportunity
to know you personally," she explains. "If they're
willing to take that extra step they'll get to know the
person you really are."
Of course, the horrible comments left on that old
YouTube video stung (the video has since been removed,
but Velasquez says she read every single comment).
Now, she says, she understands that they're "just
"I'm human, and of course these things are going to
hurt," she said. "Their judgements of me isn't who I
am, and I'm not going to let these things define me."
"I didn't sink down to their level," she said in a follow-
up video on YouTube last year.
"Instead, I got my revenge through my accomplishments and
determination. In the battle between the 'World's
Ugliest Woman' video vs. me, I think I won."