'Stop Staring and Start Learning'
When she was in high school, Lizzie Velasquez was dubbed "The World's Ugliest Woman" in an 8-second-long YouTube video. Born with a medical condition so rare that just two other people in the world are thought to have it, Velasquez has no adipose tissue and cannot create muscle, store energy, or gain weight. She has zero percent body fat and weighs just 60 pounds.
In the comments on YouTube, viewers called her "it" and "monster" and encouraged her to kill herself. Instead, Velasquez set four goals: To become a motivational speaker, to publish a book, to graduate college, and to build a family and a career for herself.
Now 23 years old, she's 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 in San Antonio, Texas; she was four weeks premature and weighed just 2 pounds, 10 ounces. "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. (Her two younger siblings were not affected by the syndrome.)
Instead, she has thrived. Her internal organs, brain, and bones developed normally, though her body is tiny. Since she has no fatty tissue in which to store nutrients, she has to eat every 15 to 20 minutes to have enough energy to get through the day. One brown eye started clouding over when she was 4 years old, and now she's blind in that eye and has only limited sight in the other.
"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."
She notes her triumphs and posts inspirational messages on Tumblr, and says that she's learned to embrace the things that make her unique. Instead of trying to retaliate against people who have made her feel badly, she sets goals for herself and pushes herself to succeed in spite of the haters. She's even reclaimed YouTube, video blogging about everything from bullying to hair-styling tips to staying positive.
"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."
Of course, the horrible comments left on that old YouTube video stung (the video has since been removed, but Velasquez says she read every single comment). Now, she says, she understands that they're "just words."
"I'm human, and of course these things are going to hurt," she said. "Their judgements of me isn't who I am, and I'm not going to let these things define me."
"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."
This story moved me to tears...That didn't take long as I often rain for the very reasons that this beautiful child of God, has written the three books she has. Note: (The third book has just recently been released). Only those with the gift of compassion can really understand the dimensions of hatred that are so prevalent in this world. I was just speaking recently to someone I love incredibly deeply, about this very topic. That of real beauty. I stated then that, I have never met a physically ugly person in my life, I meant that! This woman should be an indelible force for teaching others, simply by her inner beauty that the very fact that she emanates such, only means she is ultimately more beautiful than anyone who would title her as they have.
It is this world that is so ugly. Not her. Sometimes we walk among the heartless, rendering the sad truth, that so many humans...Basically suck.
I would have to say that she's the world's most beautiful woman, since she was able to get past how horrible people are and create a life for herself. The people who make the nasty comments are truly the most ugly in the world.
Thank you dear Lizzy, for showing the world what beauty is TRULY about. Keep going. You are an amazing inspiration! As I would be proud to be her friend! What a beautiful woman indeed!
Wow Elainey, this is just another example of God looking at the heart and not the appearance...He calls and equips you. What beautiful testimony for the glory of God she is such an inspiration. We have no reason to complain about anything when we see someone that overcomes so much, truly she is an overcormer, Lord continue to bless her!
This reminds me of what my daughter went through. She had been bullied at age twelve and that's when she started trying to kill herself. In her own words she said, "If this is how life is going to be I don't want to live anymore." Even though at the time I felt she brought a lot of this on herself we as parents tried to do something about this. She was going to a Catholic school at the time so my wife had called the priest there and he talked to the class she was in explaining there's more then a way to kill a person then with a gun. It was unbelievable because that only made it worse. She hid in the girls restroom before going into class. This bunch of girls who had ganged up on her caught her in there and told her they heard she was trying to kill herself and together wished her "Good Luck." I mean I even tried calling their parents only getting through to just one mother who let me know how terrible my daughter was. My response was I was just trying to get her to want to live. I can not see where we are a mentally stable society where we could ever solve our own problems with stuff like this going on. Fine this woman is inspirational but look how many have been inspired with the behaviors placed on her she had to overcome. I mean even Christ had the same odds and it seems the inspiration towards evil is greater then the inspiration and strength this woman displays.
We were given free choice in life so as I write this with experiences I went through I kind of think that it's easy to make a judgement about those that made the ugly comments to this woman yet it was those ugly comments that motivated her to achieve becoming the person she became. In my daughter's case she had made friends with one person each year she went to school and that would change each year. So when a new friend came into the picture the friend that left got talked about. My the time she was in seventh grade the old friends got drift about my daughter talking about them so that's when the bullying started. My struggle was finding ways to try to bring harmony into the picture with major damage already being done by my own daughter. This woman in the article had to fend for herself from the day she was born whereas my daughter didn't so her behavior is what caused the problem in the first place. My main point about this is maybe it would be a good idea for society to take a break from the usual BS we make a priority in our lives and do something to teach our children about what it takes to make decent families for a change! It's pretty hard for me to see the majority of us role modeling that for them.
As Professor Garg says “We will continue to study her case and learn from her.’”
God does not make mistakes and each an every one of us is as important (and as potentially beautiful) as the other. The ugliness we see in the words written about her is an example of what happens when we see ourselves as separate from God’s purpose. My work has brought me into contact with so many children who have to struggle each day with genetically inherited problems or the results of later illnesses and/or accidents. My role and that of my colleagues has been to ease their way through childhood and adolescence using science, patience, understanding, encouragement and love. What the children gave back to us is incalculable. May this inspiring young woman continue to forge a way through ignorance and in doing so, teach us all what truly is meant by ‘beauty’.
When you wrote using 'love' I wonder what is 'love' that you use? The reason for wondering this is that from the start I was taught God is 'Love' and that I was created in the image of God who is 'Love.' I sure have made enough mistakes in my relationships and so if I'm created in the image of God I kind of think possibly God has to look at what He created with the same questioning that I have about mistakes I made. The human beings God created were given free choice to 'love' or 'hate.' "Love' and 'Hate' are like the positive and negative poles on a battery that have to be connected in order for the battery to function.
Those that wrote the ugly words are just as necessary in life as those that act like they are the most loving people one could ever meet in their lives. Actually those that write the ugly stuff are like animals with thorns in their paws that need love shown to them to remove the thorns. Maybe studying our own cases to see our own beauty would be more beneficial in the quest of seeing beauty in others.
Since I am still viewing the world through a fog I have dictated the following post:
One important aspect of learning to differentiate between various types of behaviour is what we observe around us and identify as role models. For many children, their main point of reference is the example set by parents and other family members and later, their peers and teachers in school. For many, there is also the insidious influence of television.
Standing sentinel over the good, the bad and the ugly influences on our children is the concept of God’s love for His creation. I cannot speak for others, but I grew up with the knowledge that whatever occurred in this life, God, my Creator, loved me unconditionally. Some children can witness this unconditional love manifested in their own parents and learn that whilst their earthly family may disapprove of some of what their children do, their love never falters.
As a Christian doctor, I strive to bring not just skill and experience to enable me to treat children, but also to provide this with love. What the mind experiences, the body responds to. If one needs an interpretation as to what this means in-practise, I would describe it as showing the children how much I care and that provision of this care is unconditional. Inherent in this care is patience. Like many parents, or in my case, as a doctor, I have had children dribble down my shirt, vomit over my hands, urinate on my trousers and scream, struggle and spit whilst being examined. There is no place in all this for anger, impatience or harsh response from me. Gradually, even a frightened child will learn that I (and my colleagues) really DO care and inherent in this caring is unconditional love.
Another important aspect of providing health care for children is to do so with respect. Many children never experience respect from adults and yet, even very young children have an instinct and wisdom that can leave one amazed at the sheer wonder of sentient life. I always strive to make time to chat generally (as opposed to clinically) with young patients and in doing so learn so much more than simply treating whatever health problem they have. To me, some of the most beautiful passages in the Bible are the quotations of Jesus’ teachings regarding children.
Along with my colleagues, I have also been involved in introducing another element in to the loving care we provide for sick children and that is the deployment of therapy animals. Specially trained and medically approved cats, dogs, rabbits and other small creatures are brought into the hospital or hospice (some of our children have a terminal condition). As a wheelchair user myself, I am aware that there are not many role models for children with disabilities. Therefore, one important element in the therapy animals project is to also include small animals who are dependent on a wheelchair to be mobile. Cats and rabbits as well as dogs with mobility problems can use specially designed wheelchairs to get around. When a tiny terrier whizzes into a ward in his/her wheelchair, the expressions of delight from the children is a reminder that it is possible to turn what many regard as a tragedy into a triumph. We have one tiny terrier who does his own ‘ward rounds’ following the same path around the hospital without requiring human guidance. He trots down the corridors and turns into each ward in-turn, visits for a while and then moves on to the next ward (leaving behind dozens of happy, inspired children).
I too feel compassion towards those who use words in an attempt to hurt others. As a specialist in mental health I know from experience that many such individuals have been hurt themselves or at the very least, known very little love in their lives. This does not mean that identifying a reason for their behaviour is an excuse to allow them to continue, but it does give a perspective of where the problem lies. We were all given free will, but in-practise this manifests in a situation in which we were not all given equal freedom to grow and thrive. This is not down to God, but to the way in which our species uses or abuses the freedoms we have been given. With God’s help however, we can each work to heal ourselves and others. From bad, something good can arise, from loss can come gain and from despair, hope. However, we cannot beg, borrow or steal these gains, we have to work for them and in my opinion, this work, done in the name of God will eventually bear fruit. This, in my opinion, is the true source of beauty, which comes from within and shines through to be seen in those such as Lizzie Velasquez.
I understand your credentials but have a different version of God's Love for us. To me God divided us by genders being male and female. Those differences were to compliment one another and there's a perfection to that. In my life if the females in it weren't controlling and manipulating in behavior I wouldn't have had any reason to change or get to the point that I was the one who enabled them to control and manipulate me. It took their God given behavior to move me from a boy's behavior to a man's behavior. I honestly cannot see anyway around that in life. My earthly relationships are a reflection of my spiritual relationship with God. By that I mean I had to earn the trust and respect of those human beings that came into my life which to me is the same as God earning my trust and respect with my own letting go of any controlling or manipulating I might do in my own life. Simply put I had to learn to trust God the same as those people who came into my life had to learn to trust me.
It's fine to do good deeds for others but because I have been through what I consider a complete cycle of life I relate from those experiences. My wife used to do so much for others and our daughters that to others she looked like an angel. Even in the Hospice home she spent the last days of her life in she wrote the the nuns there considered her an angel. Yet she never gave up control to be part of a team in the matter of us as a family. Some of her last words were she never did any the stuff that hurt the family for herself. That's total BS. Scott Peck wrote, "We don't water the plant for the plant's sake. We water the plant for what we want for it!"
My main point is that in reality our relationships with one another usually involve controlling and manipulating one another instead of earning each other's trust and respect so we could feel secure enough with one another to join together with more then just our bodies. But just as we don't feel secure with one another we don't feel secure enough with God to where we let go of our controlling and manipulating behaviors. It's a cycle that's self-defeating.
I don't mean to be offensive but for me to see how wonderful a person treats another isn't the same for me as seeing a person be real with others. I can go into a store and be treated so wonderful that I end up thinking I must be special yet in the long run I know that I am being treated nice for the one doing that to profit from. It's not me they are real with but filling their own personal wants, needs and desires is the truth about the way thy are treating me. Look at females giving sex to males, or our government giving lots of financial aid to other countries while at the same time neglecting the citizens in our own country. It's the same principal where that being nice is only deal making and not the real truth that offers security to others in earning their trust and respect.
It's kind of simple but sure comes across as complicated in our present day society.
Hi Ken, currently, I find it difficult to respond to posts quickly due to having to rely on my wife to take dictation, but she is on leave today so here goes ..........
I am fine with you having a personal concept of God’s love for us as our relationship with our Heavenly Father *is* personal, as is our relationship with our earthly parents. In addition, I agree that male and female were not just a happy accident, but created as part of God’s plan for us. Spending as much time as I do with so many children, I have had the privilege of witnessing the way in which most of these precious little folk grow into the men and women they are destined to be.
Male and female have many features in-common, but nevertheless, provide a balance to each other because they are different, both physically, psychologically and developmentally. I am ever thankful for the way my wife differs from and complements me, as we both bring the strengths of these differences into our union.
One powerful factor in human behaviour which precedes living experience is hormonal influence before birth. Men and women possess the same bio-chemical endocrinology, but it is the levels of these chemicals that change us physically and mentally (most especially before birth and then during puberty) to prepare us for life as men and women. As a medical student I was overwhelmed when I saw the loving skill of God manifested in the creation of every life form on this planet. Watching an array of chromosomes under a microscope and then observing how these chromosomes (usually just 46, arranged in 23 pairs in humans in each cell of the body) work together to create male and female with all the details of our genetic inheritance passed down through the generations offered a glimpse into eternity.
Following conception, in most cases the resulting embryo is bathed in just the right balance of hormones to trigger the growth of male or female, each with their distinctive role to play in life, where they are destined to bring their God-given differences together for the benefit of mankind.
I hear what you say regarding manipulative behaviour, but this appears to be based primarily on your personal experiences. Whilst personal experience can inform our perceptions, such localised experience cannot be used as a blueprint for how others behave. I have also worked with adults and would never extrapolate from the behaviour of one sex to guide me to how someone else of the same sex would behave. As an example, there are many inherent behaviours observed in a a large number of females. One is they are generally better than males in identifying details that a man may miss, whereas men tend to be better at gaining an overview of a situation (this is part of the reason men miss the details!). However, there are many exceptions to this. Such skills are linked to hormone influence, whereas how we behave as adults is mostly down to learned behaviour and not everyone grows up with the same experiences to shape their behaviour and attitudes.
I have noted that one notable feature of many of the females in this group is that they care very deeply about multiple issues and they are not afraid to stand up and be counted in any poll of opinion. Some men actually find females who hold and express strong opinions rather intimidating, whereas men who are just as steadfast in expressing the same opinion are regarded as ‘strong’ and ‘consistent’ and to be admired. In this day and age of people who have drifted into apathy, we need those who will not be censored or cowed into silence. This strength is not found in all women. There are those who will simply go with the flow. The same could be said of men. From my own family links with the USA plus a study of history, one outstanding feature I am aware of is that ‘’Americay’ (as it is referred to in old literature) was built, not by those who were afraid to stand up for what they believed, but those who would not be pushed around. The role of women in this revolution was every bit as important and forceful as that of the men. Only a foolish individual would underestimate a woman caring for her husband and children on the frontier of the New World. The remarkable aspect of this is that these women never lost their distinctly female sensitivity and nurturing instinct.
With regard to trust, of course this has be be earned, as does respect. The way we ‘finance’ this is with experience and openness. There is a certain amount of duplication in some aspects of people’s lives, but we can never live in another person’s shoes and if we attempt to do so, discover very quickly that the shoes do not quite fit.
Whatever your personal experience with ‘good deeds’ and the message you take from this, I can say that I did not enter medicine simply to do good so that I could feel good in-return. My first motivation was built on the example set for me by my mother. She gave up a life of privilege to become a doctor at a time when women had to struggle, even more so then now, to be taken seriously.
My first plan was to specialise in surgery. However, following a road traffic accident I was paralysed below the chest and had to seriously reconsider my career prospects. I had attended church regularly as a child and had prayed many times, but now I prayed harder than ever for guidance out of the mess I was in. A short time after this personal crisis I was offered a fellowship to study neurology and genetics following my graduation, an opportunity which I could accept even though I was in a wheelchair. Two years later following graduation I embarked on three years of research. Later, I specialised in mental health (psychology and psychiatry). The dark side of all this was the knowledge that due to my injuries I would never be able to father a child, which, to someone who loves children, was devastating. Nevertheless I sensed God’s hand in guiding me to work in paediatrics and have done so ever since.
All this adds up to the fact that although overseeing the care and recovery of children may be rewarding in medical terms, I don’t do it in order to feel good about myself. What keeps me grounded and dissipates any sense of “aren’t I wonderful’ is the knowledge that any achievement is attributable to God, not me. I am but an instrument. The reference you make with regard to how someone treats another in the hope of reward or a profit, being different from witnessing how a person deals with others in a real-life situation may be true. All I can say in-reply, is that practising medicine *is* a real-life situation and non more so than when a child’s life or mental stability is at stake.
You quote Scott Peck, in return I quote the following:
“Non nobis, Domine, non nobis sed nomini tuo da gloriam”
(Not to us, not to us, O Lord, But to thy name give glory.)
(Psalm 115 - King James Version)
My God James and Ken how beautiful to see the "BRILLIANCE" that emanates from the both of you, albeit through differing circumstances that result in the climatic finishing on two different thought processes...You are both a gift to me and this site simply and perhaps even incorrect in my summation, that if it took two men to clarify the reasons for one point and the opposite. The both of you have given a predominately female audience into not only the thought processes that men possess, you both have given an amazing performance in real time, reality! James, Speak to firstly, not as being in order of preference, rather because you responded to Ken's prose. I commend your brilliance in use of both term and example...Ken, I respond in kind as I have even though you have not opened up to me in the same manner as you just have with James, I have always chose the same applicable term towards you as well...Brilliant. Now whether that is that you feel you relate to a man better than with a woman (given your prior circumstances) does not matter to me because I have thoroughly enjoyed your expose of raw emotion, obviously justified by your perception of your reality by experiences. I request nothing of you nor barter for want. But, rather to let you know that your thoughts, feelings and viewpoints are as well, respected as that of any other. For the both of you, by my account, are much loved!
This is the most inspirational thread I have ever read on Care2 and the posts are beautiful and eloquent. You tapped feelings which are universal and I appreicate the great efforts of your personal writings as I certainly relate to this and I cannot think of adding another thought; except Thank You.
Life is like dancing. In my life experiences taught me that it was up to me as a male to learn to dance well enough to lead the dance so whoever danced with me would feel secure enough with my leading the dancing so they could just enjoy the dancing. In order to feel secure with my leading in dancing it's up to me to earn the trust and respect with whoever I dance with. But then of course how many ever though about maybe God's really earning trust and respect from all of us so we can all feel secure to just enjoy the dance with God leading us.
I didn't start out in life at the point I'm at right now nor did I let go of trying to control and manipulate life myself with trying to fill my own wants needs and desires. Life is perfect just the way it comes to us even though it sure doesn't make sense most of the time. I always figured I was crazy and have this God talk where I say to God, "I know I'm nuts but You got to be kidding me putting me in a situation like this." I mean I used to be good friends with 'Outlaw' bikers and I ended up becoming president of a prestigious 'Toastmasters' club in Phoenix. So if I am created in the image of God and like to enjoy life I never could see where God wouldn't like to do the same thing. I don't have a problem going outside and Giving God the finger because I'm upset about things going on in my life. It's insane to some but real to me. I see this as comparable to my earthly relationship. Life is either trying to control and manipulate or earning trust and respect and the decision making about that is the difference between heaven and hell.
Here's my definition of love although I like Scott Peck's one of, 'Love is doing those things for another that we would prefer not to do.' Mine is 'Love is becoming the best me that I can be and then sharing that me in a responsible and accountable manner.' In other words I have to become a person with something to share before I can honestly share with anybody else.
And for you my dear Sheila, Where the hell have you been??? You better call me or let me know when to call you! I miss you big time!
Love & Hugs,