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Mocked as the ‘world’s ugliest woman’ in an infamous viral video, San Marcos resident Lizzie Velasquez has channeled the adversity into a promising career as a motivational speaker and author.
Velasquez, a Texas State University communications senior, is making the media rounds after publishing her second book, “Be Beautiful, Be You,” this month. She was featured in a segment on CNN’s Headline News this week and the clip has been picked up by Yahoo! and other Internet outlets.
Velasquez was born with a rare condition that keeps her from creating muscle or fat — meaning she cannot gain weight or store energy and must eat every 15 to 20 minutes. She is one of only three people known in the world to have the condition, according to her publisher, Liguori Publications.
While a high school student in her native San Antonio, someone posted a brief video of Velasquez on YouTube under the heading “The World’s Ugliest Woman,” forever changing her life.
“I’m human and, of course, these things are going to hurt. But at the end of the day, these things are just words and they’re people hiding behind their computers. Their judgements of me isn’t who I am and I’m not going to let those things define me. It’s not going to hold me back,” Velasquez told Dr. Drew Pinsky in the CNN interview.
Velasquez used the hurt to fuel a career as a motivational speaker during which she has given more than 200 workshops on self-acceptance and overcoming obstacles, according to Yahoo! A video she recorded for the “It Gets Better” anti-bullying campaign has been viewed more than 2.4 million times.
“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 people saying time and time again, ‘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?” Velasquez said in an Internet video.
“I know the feeling. It made me feel so alone and so vulnerable like things were never going to get better. But listen to what I’m saying and let it sink in: You are not alone,” she said.
Lizzie Velasquez interviewed on CNN Headline News’ Drew Pinsky