Due to a rare condition, Lizzie Velasquez is unable to gain weight and her appearance made her the target of mockery from her schoolmates who called her “the ugliest woman in the world” in a YouTube video.
The 23-year-old, however, is confident she has been greatly blessed by God, and has become an author and motivational speaker on true beauty.
“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.”
The YouTube video received over 4 million hits, with some commenters referring to Lizzie as “it” and suggesting she “do the world a favor” and kill herself. Although Lizzie deeply suffered from the mockery, she decided to respond to the cruelty with courage and determination.
With the unconditional love of her family and her profound faith, Lizzie set herself a series of goals, including becoming a motivational speaker, and has been meeting each one. Two months ago, she posted a response video on YouTube sharing her story.
Lizzie was born into a Catholic family in Austin, Texas, and she remains active in her community and parish. Despite her condition being difficult – only a handful of people worldwide are known to have it – she says she has decided to embrace it with integrity.
“To this day the doctors have no idea what it is or what to call it. It remains undiagnosed to this day.”
“Even though this is hard, God has been at my side every step of the way. My faith, my family and my friends are the three things that have made me who I am.”
The main symptom of her condition is that she cannot gain weight. “I eat almost all day long, but I still cannot gain weight. Besides this, I really don’t have any other health issues,” Lizzie explained.
She dismissed as a “dumb rumor” reports that she has to eat every fifteen minutes. “I don’t have a specific diet. The truth is that I eat a lot of small meals throughout the day.”
“I get full very quickly, and so I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner regularly. The only difference is that between meals, I tend to eat much more than the average person probably would,” Lizzie said.
She said her faith has been the most important aspect in meeting the challenges of her life. “Besides my family and my friends, my faith is everything to me. When I have a bad day, I know the only thing I have to do is put it in God’s hands, and I know he will help me overcome anything.”
She said the first place people need to look to find true beauty is within themselves. “Beauty is not defined only by external appearances. True beauty is who you are inside, and who God made you to be.”
In order to find this beauty, Lizzie said, “The first step you have to take is to learn to accept who you are. Accept your imperfections, your good qualities, your personality, everything!”
“Once you can completely accept and love yourself, your true beauty will shine brighter than you if every thought it could.”
To learn more about Lizzie visit: www.aboutlizzie.com