Lizzie Velasquez, an activist and motivational speaker, recently found a meme of herself on the internet targeting her appearance.
In Facebook and Instagram posts shared over 100,000 times, Velasquez chose to speak out about the meme, reminding people to spread love instead of hurtful words on the internet. She wrote:
Yes, it’s very late at night as I type this but I do so as a reminder that the innocent people that are being put in these memes are probably up just as late scrolling through Facebook and feeling something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. No matter what we look like or what size we are, at the end of the day we are all human. I ask that you keep that in mind the next time you see a viral meme of a random stranger. At the time you might find it hilarious but the human in the photo is probably feeling the exact opposite.
Velasquez was born with an extremely rare congenital disease which prevents her body from sustaining fat. She has also been diagnosed with Marfan disease, a hereditary disorder of connective tissue, and is blind in one eye. In a 2013 Ted Talk called “How Do YOU Define Yourself,” Velasquez made light of her condition saying, “Yes, it does sound as good as it is. I can eat absolutely whatever I want whenever I want and I won’t really gain any weight.”
But her sense of humor and optimism have been surrounded by bullying. In 2006 when Velasquez was 17, she discovered a video on YouTube calling her “The World’s Ugliest Woman,” and has discussed her history of bullying and day-to-day experiences on her YouTube.
Velasquez is now the author of three books, a motivational speaker, and the subject of a documentary which premiered on Lifetime and at SXSW.