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Defining Beautiful: Lessons from Lizzie Velasquez


Imagine someone commenting on your body size as you are wearing your favorite little black dress. Imagine having people criticize how your teeth are crooked. Imagine how you would feel living in a world where those small, yet hurtful comments about your appearance were a constant part of your interactions with other people.

Now imagine if the world labeled you as the “world’s ugliest woman.” 

Personally, I don’t know if I would have the courage to leave my room, let alone face all that negativity from people who don’t even know me. 

24-year-old Lizzie Velasquez, however, endures this tragic reality. According to an article on The Huffington Post, she suffers from a rare condition that causes “accelerated aging and fat loss from the face and body.” Due to this condition, she weighs a mere sixty pounds and is blind in her right eye. Velasquez lives a life where so often she is overlooked for her amazing personality, for most people couldn’t see past her skeletal-like appearance. 

Ignorant of her condition, a fellow classmate posted an 8-second video with no sound of her, labeling her as the “ugliest woman in the world,” which garnered millions of views and a plethora of cruel comments. 

Instead of lashing or hiding, Velasquez had the strength and courage to turn all the negativity surrounding her into fuel for her dreams. In the years after high school, she was able to graduate college, write a book (three, to be precise), and become a motivational speaker. 

Recently, she gave a talk at TEDxAustinWomen where she talked about her struggles and how she has let them make her stronger. In her talk, Velasquez posed the question to the audience:

“How do you define yourself?”

I urge you to take a moment and think about it. Are you defined by the shape of your face? Or is it by your personality? Or is it by the people that surround you? 

Velasquez, with her warm and witty personality, truly embodies the cliché: “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” She shows that appearances should not be what define you, and that sometimes, it pays to dig a little deeper. 

You can watch her talk here



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