The 'world's ugliest woman' Lizzie Velasquez raising funds through Kickstarter for anti-bullying documentary

She rose to fame after her TED Talk on bullying went viral

Lizzie Velasquez, who has been called “the world’s ugliest woman,” hoped to tell her story through an anti-bullying documentary about her life.

She became well known in December 2013, when her TED Talk, a short speech designed to spread ideas from a number of subjects, went viral. Her talk on bullying has over 5.7 million views on YouTube.

“I know what it is to be bullied and what is to be bullied online, and I want to be the protector of those who think it won't get better,” said Velasquez, 25, who has a rare disease that makes it impossible for her to gain weight.

Velasquez’s syndrome is so rare that only two other people in the world have it. She has never weighed more than 64 pounds and is blind in one eye.

In her TED Talk, she explains that her life changed when she saw herself in a YouTube video titled, “The world’s ugliest woman,” and there were comments like: “Do the world a favour and put a gun to your head.”

She said that video emboldened her, and she chose to make her illness into a positive.

“Instead of just taking shelter of my tears, I chose to be happy and realise this syndrome is not a problem but a blessing that allows me to improve myself and inspire other people,” said Velasquez.

She is trying to broaden the reach of her message by making a film, tentatively titled “The Lizzie Project,” which she is trying to fund through a Kickstarter campaign.

She has collected more than $123,000, about £73,000, in donations, but the goal of the campaign, which ends on 31 May, is to raise $180,000 (£107,000). If Velasquez doesn’t reach her goal, she would not get any of the money raised.

Since seeing the video and comments, she has written three self-help books, the most recent of which, “Choosing Happiness,” is to be published in August.

“Lizzie has such an inner strength and sense of humour that anyone can relate to her,” said Sara Bordo, a first-time director working with Velasquez on the film project. “We all have difficulties in life, but nothing compared to what she has been through. Her positive attitude elevates the spirit of any person in the world.”

Velasquez attributes her strength to her parents, who have shown her the same love as they did her other siblings, Marina and Chris, neither of whom suffer from the syndrome.

“They're the best parents in the entire world,” said Velasquez. “From the moment I was born they showered me with love. And they didn't just raise me. They raised my brother and sister in the exact same way. So that love, multiplied times three, is what definitely brought me to where I am today.”

Velasquez was born four weeks premature, and when doctors used a photo to show her to her mother, she began to cry.

“I started crying inconsolably, but I asked them to bring her to me nevertheless,” said Rita Velasquez. “I wanted to see her, hold her and love her.” 

Her father said Velasquez knew she was different on her first day of kindergarten when other kids didn’t want to play with her. Her mother and father told her about her syndrome, and he said that ever since, Velasquez has shown a lot of maturity.

Since becoming older, Velasquez said that she would not be interested in a cure for her syndrome because it is a part of her.

“No, there is no way, I wouldn't even consider it,” Velasquez said. “If you had asked me that question when I was 13, I'd probably have said yes. I'd be all for it, I'd do the trial, whatever.

“But if you ask me that now, I've learned and I've come such a long way to be able to accept who I am and own who I am that, if I changed anything about me I wouldn't be Lizzie, I wouldn't be true to myself.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific