Born with no adipose tissue, Lizzie Velasquez is a 60-pound, 23-year-old woman on a mission to share her story. She wants to teach people to look beyond the exterior, their own and others’, to help them acknowledge and embrace their inner beauty.
Only three people in the world have the condition that makes her so unique, and doctors are uncertain what it is. Her body is unable to store fat or muscle. One of her eyes is blind; the other has limited vision. Her appearance can be startling at first glance.
Velasquez is no stranger to bullying. Some people stare, make ugly comments or send vicious e-mails, but this gutsy young woman has the grit to speak out. She is honest about the pain it causes her, though she refuses to let anything stop her. In the video she made in 2010, she says:
I’m going to be honest. It was really hard for me to look in the mirror and accept who I was. I know you’ve heard time and time again people saying, “Be proud of who you are. Be yourself.” But you’re probably thinking, “Why am I going to be myself if I’m just going to be made fun of?”
I know the feeling. It made me feel so alone and so vulnerable, like things were never going to get better. I’m sure many of you can relate to that. But listen to this, and let it sink in. You are not alone.
Velasquez deals with the bullying by setting her personal bar higher. The bullying still hurts, but it also compels her to act instead of retreat. She has published two books and has plans for a third. She is a popular motivational speaker and a university student in communications. She is a woman on the rise.
Part of Lizzie’s secret is a family who love her unconditionally and expect the best of her, as you can see in this Today Show interview. I watched it with tears of admiration for this feisty young woman.
Lizzie Velasquez, you are extraordinarily beautiful. Your spirit shines through your whole being. You give me hope.