24-year-old Lizzie Velasquez was born with an extremely rare medical condition that keeps her body from storing fats. In addition to being severely underweight, she is also blind in one eye.
In 2012, online bullies had taken upon themselves to brand Lizzie the “world’s ugliest woman.” An eight-second clip of Lizzie was uploaded on YouTube without her knowledge, and had garnered over four-million views, with thousands of nasty comments.
However, instead of letting this cruel twist of fate defeat her, Lizzie stood up for herself, and showed us what true beauty really is. Here are 21 lessons we can learn from her struggles and triumphs:
1. Bad things do happen to good people.
Bad things happen to good, innocent people all the time — they just do. In Lizzie’s case, she became a target for online bullies for no other reason than the fact that she stands out in her own way. And very often, bad things catch us off guard. You do not have to provoke other people for them to provoke you. You don’t have to do any wrong for wrong things to happen to you.
2. Be immediately aware the moment you begin to doubt yourself.
Often, when we come under other people’s attacks, the first things we think to ourselves are: “Where did I go wrong?” “What did I do to deserve this?” “Am I a bad person?” You need to catch yourself when you think such thoughts — before things spiral downwards under the pressure, and before you start to believe those self-doubts to be true.
3. A healthy self-image is very, very important.
Ask yourself today: “How do you see yourself?” “What kind of a person do you see yourself as?” “Do you constantly think that you are fat?” “That you are not as pretty as the other girls?” “That you need to be more masculine?” “That you are not good enough, for others or even for yourself?” Very often, we do not see the need and the importance of talking to ourselves, and asking ourselves if we’re doing fine on the inside.
4. You are worth more than what people say or think of you.
5. Bullying thrives on herd mentality.
Don’t jump on the bandwagon just because everyone’s doing so. It may be easy for you to pile on, but your simple acts of “liking,” “sharing” and “LOL-ing” could hurt someone else’s feelings and dignity deeply.
6. Criticism of one’s appearance hurts, no matter what.
We all try to act tough and unaffected when people criticize the way we look and how we dress. But in reality, this sort of criticism always matter to us, and it always hurts.
We should not expect everyone to be tough and not feel anything when offended. No one is meant to hate and be hated — we are all meant to love and be loved.
7. It is useless to fight fire with fire.
When you’re offended, it is instinctive to want to fight back in anger, to want to make the people responsible feel bad as well. However, this would only add more negative energy to the situation, making it worse. Think twice before you snap. Don’t lose control.
8. Never let others define you.
Don’t believe it when people tell you that you will never accomplish anything great in life, or that you’re ordinary or should just stay the same as everybody else. Don’t let them define you, your life or your future. Don’t let society or people restrict or blind you with their definitions of what’s beautiful and what’s not, and what’s successful and what’s not. Indeed, beauty is not only defined by the outward appearance, but also by one’s character. Success is not about impressing and pleasing everyone, but setting your own goals, and achieving them in your own time.
9. Your accomplishments will be your best revenge.
Let the haters’ hate push you to go further instead of tear you down. Make their hate your stepping stones towards achieving something greater. This will be the best revenge you can give — by proving to people that they are wrong about you, and that you are better than they could ever imagine.
10. Life’s struggles are necessary for growth.
There is a purpose in life’s struggles. Without them, we stay the same. Without them, we cannot grow into the person that we are meant to become. Struggles not only make us into stronger, better and wiser people, they also let us learn more about ourselves and our purpose in life.
11. Confidence is a fragile thing.
All it takes is a single moment in time, or a single word, to destroy what took a lifetime to build.
12. Don’t be afraid to have goals and dreams.
Even in the face of haters and those who do not believe in you, don’t stop dreaming. Lizzie did not stop pursuing her dreams in the midst of all the difficult situations she found herself to be in. Instead, she set her goals in faith. She pushed on, persevered, and got to where she is today — a graduate from college, a motivational speaker and the author of two books.
13. Family is your most reliable source of support in any situation.
Because love from your family is unconditional.
14. Good parenting can go a long way.
Parents play an exceptionally important role in helping their child build a strong foundation of security and love from a young age. This foundation will support the child for the rest of his or her life.
15. People should be taught the value of a human life.
Lizzie shares, “People were giving me tips on how to kill myself.”
This sort of cruel comment did not only happen to Lizzie, but also to so many of the kids and teenagers who are being bullied in schools all across the country today. Children must be taught the sanctity of life, and how to respect it.
16. Make your flaw your strength.
Instead of trying to hide herself from the world, Lizzie has turned things around and owned her flaw, making it her signature trait. Lizzie has made what most people think to be the worst of her become something she is proud of. Lizzie sees her illness as a blessing from God.
You can also make your flaws work for you.
17. You gotta face your own demons.
Lizzie refuses to let the nasty videos on YouTube haunt her. She overcomes her fears by watching the hate videos again and again — she decides to look the devil straight in the eye. She makes the decision to not let what hurt her the most hurt her anymore.
Only by facing your demons can you stop them from having power over you.
18. “Have your one good cry, pick your chin up, smile, and move on to the positive.”
Because this is how winners roll.
19. Everything happens for a reason.
Lizzie once said, “God put you here for a reason and wants you to share that reason no matter what.”
20. Be thankful, always.
Regardless of your circumstances, always be grateful. Remember, it’s not always about finding the answers to your problems. You can’t always have the full picture to everything in life.
Be thankful, because it could have been much worse. By being thankful, you allow the answers to eventually find their way to you.
21. Choose to be happy.
Because you always have the choice.
To show your support, or know more about Lizzie Velasquez and her work, you can visit her website.