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 in September 2012.
“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 form 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 normal life. (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. (story by )
Lizzie’s life is rooted in God. In her book, Be Beautiful, Be you, she writes more about her trust in God
God loves us faithfully. He loves me and he loves you just as we are, today, right now, right here, no matter where we are or what’s going on in our lives…I’ve spent years wanting to look like everyone else, but it didn’t happen. Instead, I had to learn to love and accept myself just as I am. I stopped listening to what other people said and started making a life for myself. I’ve discovered what it means to find my purpose in life, my passion.
My life is exciting. I share my story in person with hundreds of teens and young adults across the country. I do guest appearances on TV: The Today Show, Inside Edition, Australia’s Sunday Night, Germany’s Explosiv, and now Dr. Drew. Sharing my story is my calling, the way I help others.
If I had never looked past the anger and hurt and embraced who I really am, I would have missed these opportunities. As I look back over my struggles, I can see that God was present. I just didn’t always understand that. My faith in God has helped me in every aspect of my life… and because God has had a huge starring role, I talk about him a lot. Without him, I can’t imagine that you would be interested in hearing much about me.
Each day we’re given an opportunity to discover our purpose and to prepare to live as best we can. As long as I have faith in God, a smile on my face, and genuine pride in who I am, everything else will happen on schedule. The same is true for you. If you haven’t yet discovered your purpose, that’s OK—it will come.
During my really dark days, I could never have imagined being as happy as I am today. No, my life isn’t perfect. And yes, others’ opinions matter. But what matters most is that I’m living my destiny. The secret to my success is that I recognize and embrace my own God-given uniqueness. Life isn’t always easy, but this is the only life I’ve known…
This story is derived from Lizzie’s book Be Beautiful, Be You and from Yahoo! Shine