Motivational speaker Lizzie Velásquez is one of the most beautiful people you will ever meet. Exemplifying what it means to be an inspirational figure through taking a potentially destructive situation and turning it into positive energy, she gives that seemingly superficial word "beauty" a completely different definition that is a thousand times more rich.
Born with an undiagnosed syndrome that prevents her from gaining weight, she is able to eat whatever she prefers, however, she cannot get above 60 pounds. Subject to ridicule due to her physical appearance, Lizzie has made the bold choice to live her life in accepting her circumstances and being a powerful voice for good - particularly when it comes to putting an end to bullying across the US and the world.
Once the victim of extreme cyber-bullying when she was called "the world's ugliest woman", she is proving that she is anything but through becoming an anti-bullying activist. A true powerhouse, she has authored three books and given countless motivational speeches, including a viral TEDx talk in Austin, Texas, which catapulted her to become a symbol for those who are positively fighting back against abusive treatment. Following the talk which brought in over 9 million views across the internet, she was featured on Katie Couric, The Today Show, Dr. Drew, Inside Edition, Huffington Post, Yahoo! Lifestyle, and many other national and international media.
Continuing her life mission to make a lasting impact on the world, in September 2014 she ventured to DC to face Congress in an effort to lobby lawmakers to support the Safe Schools Improvement Act. Introduced by Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), the bill would make it a requirement for schools nationwide to implement anti-bullying guidelines.
As if that were not impressive enough, her documentary entitled A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velásquez Story is about to premiere at the renowned film festival South By Southwest in Austin. The film follows her journey all the way to Capitol Hill, and will no doubt make waves on an international level.
At the age of 25, this fierce Texas native is indeed a beautiful young woman who is shaping the world for the better, and MOGUL is proud to support her in all her endeavors to come.
MOGUL: How do you hope your story will encourage those who are coping with bullying? What message do you want to send to bullies across the world?
Lizzie Velásquez: I hope that my story will encourage those who are coping with bullying as well as the bullies. People bully others as a way to cope with something that is going on in their life that isn’t so great. I hope my story shows everyone that my story is only one story in the world. So many people are going through different situations every single day. I hope that this film continues to be a driving force to influence for good, for both the bullies and the victims of bullying.
MOGUL: Can you discuss the “trigger” moment in your life where you felt called to be an anti-bullying activist, and what was the process of making the decision to turn that pain into positive action?
Velásquez: It definitely wasn’t a turn on the light decision. It was a long process that began after finding the bad video when I was 17 years old. At the time my natural instinct was to fight back with negativity. I quickly realized that would accomplish nothing. Once I started focusing on accomplishing my personal goals, my eyes were open to the fact that I could use my accomplishments to help make a change for other people.
MOGUL: Looking back at your 10-year-old self, what advice and words of encouragement would you give?
Velásquez: Looking back I would tell myself that there is light on the other side of being bullied. I would remind myself that I am my single biggest influence in my life. Learning to love myself first would be the key to accomplishing anything I put my mind to.
MOGUL: In your opinion, what do you think it will take for bullying to decrease within the United States? What specific steps do you believe our country needs to take?
Velásquez: I’m a firm believer that for bullying to decrease in the United States it will take two things: time and effort. Unfortunately many people think that bullying will never end so why try to fix it? The reality of the situation is, yes, bullying will never just end. On the other hand, taking steps to help decrease the amount of people bullying is something we can do. We have to stop bullying the bully back. By taking the high road and not fighting back with negativity, you instantly start making a change and put a stop to the cycle of bullying the bully back.
MOGUL: Having accomplished an astounding amount as a leader at such a young age, what are your ultimate career aspirations?
Velásquez: Being the voice for those who can’t or are unable to use their voices is something I will never stop doing until I’m physically no longer able to. How that will continue to play out is something that I’m very much looking forward to. We live in a world with endless possibilities and I intend to live that to its full extent.
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