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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links