Lizzie Velásquez

by Abigail Clark from Rush-Henrietta, New York in United States

Being called ugly is something no child, boy, or girl should ever have to deal with - let alone hear. Even worse, being known as the “Ugliest Woman on Earth” is a title no one should ever be labeled with. But Lizzie Velásquez did, and she made that comment into something beautiful. Lizzie is a motivational speaker, an activist, an author, and a YouTuber. She was born with a rare disease (Marfanoid-progeroid-lipodystrophy syndrome) that is classifiable by the inability to gain weight and distinct facial features, including proptosis, downslanting palpebral fissures, and retrognathia. She is very healthy, although she has never weighed over 64 pounds. Through her TED Talks, YouTube posts, and books, she was able to speak to many about loving yourself for who you are, and not needing to change for anyone. 

Lizzie was born four weeks prematurely in Texas on March 13, 1989, and she still resides in Austin, Texas. She is the oldest of three, and is 30 years old. Since she was young, she was frequently bullied, in person and online, which pushed her to spread her story to others. She turned the world's hatred towards her into a life lesson that every person can learn from. She was able to show people that looking different doesn't mean you are different. And if she was able to love herself for how she looks, then every person can learn. 

It took me a long time to decide who my hero would be. I don't have any parental figures in my life, and I don't have any famous people that I really look up to either, or that shaped my life in any significant way. But, as I was researching, I came across a familiar title that I read during middle school: “The Ugliest Woman On Earth,” and all of the memories began to flood back. All of the insecurities I pushed away resurfaced, and I remembered how she changed how I looked at myself. That she was my hero. 

In middle school, I didn't have confidence about how I looked or how I acted. I would always compare myself to better looking, more popular people, and think, “If I was more like them, then I would be happier.” But after listening to Lizzie’s YouTube post, and TED Talks, I realized that I am perfect the way I am. She gave me confidence in myself, and helped me believe in my insecurities, and treat them as pieces that make me who I am, rather than obstacles. 

In her honor, I created a portrait of her. Lizzie is drawn simplistically with pen, but her forehead is absent. In its place is instead a bouquet of flowers. The flowers reflect the inner beauty that hides within her. The flowers are in color, unlike her face and hair, which are white like the paper. On the bottom of the portrait is one of my favorite quotes that she has said: “True beauty is discovering your own uniqueness and owning it.” It helped me get through hard times during middle school, and changed how I looked at myself. It made me realize that if she can find beauty in herself, after years of bullying and the horrible title she has been named, then I can learn to love myself for who I am, and not change for anyone else’s benefit but my own. Upon researching her, I found out how she was able to overcome the negativity that filled most of her life directed towards her looks. She claims that she still suffers from bullying to this very day, even at 30 years old, but she reminds herself of her purpose in life - to help others who have faced similar struggles, and to be a voice for the voiceless. This is why she is a hero. She fights for others, and she helps change their negative mentalities towards themselves. She does what many adults cannot do today: She learned to love herself even when people told her otherwise.


Page created on 1/23/2020 4:01:11 PM

Last edited 9/2/2021 11:33:37 PM

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