By Sandra Birungi
She was crowned with the title in an 8-second-long YouTube video. She cannot, store energy, or gain weight and has zero percent body fat and weighs just 60 pounds.
After the video was released, she was urged to kill herself apart from being called a monster but these just encouraged her. Velasquez set for herself four goals: To become a motivational speaker, to publish a book, to graduate college, and to build a family and a career for herself.
At 23 years old, Velasquez has been a motivational speaker for seven years and has given more than 200 workshops on embracing uniqueness, dealing with bullies, and overcoming obstacles. She’s a senior majoring in Communications at Texas State University in San Marcos, where she lives with her best friend. Her first book, “Lizzie Beautiful,” came out in 2010 and her second, “Be Beautiful, Be You,” was published earlier this month.
“The stares are what I’m really dealing with in public right now,” she told Dr. Drew Pinsky in an interview on CNN’s Headline News this week. “But I think I’m getting to the point where… instead of sitting by and watching people judge me, I’m starting to want to go up to these people and introduce myself or give them my card and say, ‘Hi, I’m Lizzie. Maybe you should stop staring and start learning’.”
Velasquez was born four weeks premature, weighed 2 pounds, 10 ounces in San Antonio, Texas. “They told us they had no idea how she could have survived,” her mother, Rita, 45, told the Daily Mail. “We had to buy doll’s clothes from the toy store because baby clothes were too big.” Doctors warned Rita and her husband, Lupe, that their oldest child would never be able to walk or talk, let alone live a normal life.
“Some days life doesn’t make sense,” she writes in “Be Beautiful, Be You.” “You just have to change what you can, ask for help and pray about the rest.”
“I feel really glad that I don’t look like the celebrities out there that are so beautiful,” she told Dr. Drew. “There’s a lot of stereotypes attached to that.” Not looking like a supermodel “gives people the opportunity to know you personally,” she explains. “If they’re willing to take that extra step they’ll get to know the person you really are.”
“I didn’t sink down to their level,” she said in a follow-up video on YouTube last year. “Instead, I got my revenge through my accomplishments and determination. In the battle between the ‘World’s Ugliest Woman’ video vs. me, I think I won.”