That’s exactly what happened to Lizzie Velasquez. One of only three people in the world born with a rare genetic disorder that prevents a person from gaining weight, Velasquez has never weighed more than 62 pounds in her life and was born blind in her right eye.
And right before her junior year of high school, she discovered a video of herself on YouTube labeled “The World’s Ugliest Woman.”
To make matters worse, it already had 4 million hits.
Velasquez’s parents tried to get the video removed, but the anonymous figure who posted it declared he wouldn’t take it down.
While many would take that as a signal to retreat into misery and self-pity, Velasquez took the opposite approach. Having already addressed some high school freshmen about her condition, she decided to confront the topic of bullying head-on and create a roster of speaking engagements. That launched her onto a global media stage and led to three books, including Be Beautiful, Be You.
Raised in the Catholic parish where both her parents work, Velasquez’s decision to follow Christ came near the end of high school. She credits her faith with enabling her to endure everything from scorn to physical infirmities.
“It’s 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.
The recent Texas State University graduate will spend next year on the road sharing her message that no matter how things look at the moment, brighter days are ahead.
“Even when it seems like things will never get better in the darkest times,” she says, “if you have faith and continue to push yourself, you can eventually get through anything.” —Ken Walker