Lizzie Velasquez was born with a congenital condition so rare, it doesn't have a name. While it is not terminal, there are daily struggles associated with it. She must eat almost constantly to maintain her energy since her body cannot store any of it in the form of fat. Additionally, she must contend with the stares and comments she receives from complete strangers.
Her parents wanted her to have as normal a life experience as possible. They showered her with love and told her she could achieve whatever she wanted. It was only when Lizzie started school that she realized that she was different from other children. With her optimism and the support of her parents, she overcame this obstacle. Then in her teenage years, when most are already dealing with insecurity and seeking the approval of others, she discovered that someone had posted an eight-second video of her on YouTube entitled "World's Ugliest Woman." It had millions of views, and thousands of comments, most of them urging her to die.
That could have been the end of Lizzie's story. We could be sharing her story as a warning against cyber bullies. Instead, Lizzie made that the turning point in a story of triumph. She took all that hate, and built a motivational fire. Rather than letting their comments, her condition or her appearance define her, she decided to be defined by her accomplishments. She made a list of goals: write a book, graduate college, have a career as a motivational speaker. In less than 8 years, she has accomplished all of them. Every hurtful comment becomes one more person to prove wrong, and with every triumph she gains more support from people she has inspired.
We are truly moved by Lizzie's story of determination, and we hope it inspires you, too. How do you define yourself? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section.