Beauty within

Lizzie Velasquez
Lizzie Velasquez

Lizzie Velasquez was browsing through YouTube as a typical teenager when she came across a video titled The Ugliest Woman in the World. She soon discovered the video starred her and already had over four million views.

Now 27 years old, Lizzie Velasquez has never weighed more than 29 kilos in her life and has zero percent body fat. She suffers from an undiagnosed, very rare condition that prevents her from gaining weight. She is also completely blind in her right eye and has limited vision in the other.

"Yes, it is as good as it sounds," Lizzie jokes about her syndrome. "I can eat whatever I want whenever I want, I get half off prescription for my glasses and if someone annoys me I just tell them to stand on my right [blind] side, and it's like they're not even there."

But Lizzie has not always been so light hearted about her syndrome.

"I first realized I was different in kindergarten," she explains, recalling how the first little girl she ever walked up to looked at her like she was a monster.

Year after year of bullying caused Lizzie to hate herself and her syndrome.

"I thought my little tiny legs and my little arms and my tiny face were ugly. I thought I was disgusting. I hated when I woke up in the morning and looked in the mirror getting ready for school. I thought, 'Can I just scrub this syndrome off? It would make my life so much easier'."

Then one day Lizzie decided she would no longer let her condition and the effect it had on her outward appearance define her.

When the cruel video came out and comments started appearing like: "Lizzie, please, please just do the world a favour, put a gun to your head and kill yourself," Lizzie had a choice.

She knew she could believe those things about her, or she could stand above the insults and believe she was beautiful and treasured by God her creator.

Lizzie Velasquez 2

"God is the number one reason why I am here," she told CNA. "He blessed me with the greatest blessing of my life, which is my syndrome."

As King David wrote in Psalm chapter 139 verses 13 and 14, "For You (God) created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

Lizzie's decision to follow Jesus Christ came at the end of high school and has seen her through every difficult situation since then, from bullying to physical challenges.

"Even when it seems like things will never get better in the darkest times, if you have faith and continue to push yourself, you can eventually get through anything," Lizzie says, understanding that God made and loves her just as she is.

"I started to realize my life was in my hands. I could either choose to make this really good or choose to make this really bad," she says. "I could choose to be grateful for the things I do have and make those the things that define me. I can't see out of one eye, and I might get sick a lot, but I have really nice hair.

"Am I going to let the people who call me a monster define me? Am I going to let the people who said 'kill it with fire' define me? No," she adds.

What defines Lizzie is her confidence, her success, her talent for motivational speaking and writing, and her faith in Jesus.

"(My faith in Jesus has) been my rock through everything, just having the time to be alone and pray and talk to God and know that He's there for me," she says.

Lizzie has come to see her syndrome as a blessing from God, which she can use to motivate, inspire, and help other people realize they are loved and perfect as they are.

The video may have had 4 million views, but her inspiring 2013 TEDx Women talk has been seen by 7 million and has had an impact on countless lives.?

Lizzie tells of her own journey towards self-acceptance in her 2012 book Be Beautiful, Be You and in a documentary A Brave Heart, see ABraveHeartFilm.com

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