Dare to Be Kind in An Unkind World

Lizzie remembers, “Someone posted a video calling me ‘The World's Ugliest Woman.’ Over 4 million views… I saw the comments. ‘If you were going to be so ugly why didn't your parents abort you.’ ‘Can you please just find a gun and kill yourself.’

Lizzie says, “I read every one because I was determined and desperate to find one comment that said, ‘You don't know her story.’ Or, ‘She’s just a kid’, or anything, and I didn't find that at all.”

Lizzie Velasquez was born with Neonatal Progeroid Syndrome; a disorder that prevents her from gaining weight, weakens her bones and heart, and caused blindness in her right eye. Her parents did their best to make her feel normal.

Lizzie recalls, “I remember them sitting me down and saying, ‘First of all, there's nothing wrong with you.  The only difference is that you're smaller than the other kids. And you're brave enough and strong enough to do whatever you put your mind to.’"

Public school was a rude awakening and Lizzie was bullied because of her appearance.

Lizzie remembers, “A lot of it was just name calling… pork chop legs and grandma, and ‘Why are you so skinny?’  And pointing and the stares. Oftentimes there were no words said to me, but it hurt as much as someone screaming something hateful to me with a megaphone.

Away from school, Lizzie’s only refuge was her family and God.

Lizzie says, “My faith was something that was instilled in me from Day 1. If I was at church, I was the happiest kid in the world.

When Lizzie entered middle school, the bullying intensified and so did her frustration.  

Lizzie remembers, “ ’How come I can only see out of one eye?  How come my clothes don't fit like the other kids?  How come I can't do this and can't do that?’ No matter how hard I tried, no matter how hard I prayed, no matter what I did, I was not going to look like everybody else.”

Lizzie joined an after school club to try to win over her peers. It was there she realized she needed to change her attitude.

Lizzie recalls, “’What am I doing?  Nobody did this to me on purpose. Lizzie, stop whining.  Stop complaining.’”

Lizzie says, “God is the reason why I’m here. If I'm going to continue on this faith journey, I need to actually walk it. I have God here with me and He's not leaving this path. And if He's not leaving this path, neither am I."

From that point forward things began to change.

Lizzie remembers, “I was really happy.  Everything was going well.  I had incredible best friends around me.”

Lizzie’s confidence grew but she wasn’t prepared for what would happen her junior year of high school.

Lizzie recalls, “I don't think I'll ever be able to adequately describe what I felt in that moment. I was really confused and upset and angry. ‘What in the world do I do now?’  I worked so hard to get my confidence up to where it was, now it doesn't even exist. I knew deep down I was not going to let this video or those people become the definition of who I was meant to be.”

Lizzie immersed herself in church and school. Later, she was asked to share her story with the freshman class. She was apprehensive but the next morning she stood up in front of 400 students and spoke.

Lizzie remembers, “Halfway through I looked up and I realized that everyone was just listening.  It was silent in there.  And in that exact very moment I had never felt more comfortable and confident in my own skin. And I realized we all know what it's like to be bullied. We all know what it's like to feel like you're not good enough, or pretty enough, or strong enough.”

When Lizzie finished speaking she finally felt she understood God’s plan for her life.  

Lizzie recalls, “I looked up and there was like a line of students who were wanting to come up and hug me and telling me how much my story touched them. I get chills thinking about it because it was just like this moment of like ‘I'm going to be okay.’”

Lizzie says, “That was the day that I found my purpose.”

For the next 5 years, Lizzie shared her story at churches and conferences nationwide. Then, in 2013, another video of her went viral – this time it was a TED talk she gave on self-image that garnered over 10 million views.

Lizzie explains, “I wasn't doing this to be famous, I was doing this to share a message. The whole speech, every word that came out of my mouth was a God thing.  It wasn't me.”

Now, Lizzie speaks around the world, hosts her own YouTube channel, and has written several books. In, Dare To Be Kind, Lizzie shares how to overcome life’s challenges.

Lizzie says, “I feel like Jesus put me in this little body to show people that no matter what size you are, or where you come from, or what you go through, there is a God who is there who will never leave you. And that will surpass any obstacle.”

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