A South Texas college student is making a big difference by speaking out against bullying. That message is not only spreading quickly but she's gaining a large audience all across the globe.
When describing Texas State University senior Lizzie Velasquez, the word small might be an understatement.
“I’m 23 years old and I’ve never weighed over 61—61 pounds in my entire life,” said Velasquez.
If you think that’s small, Lizzie was born 6 weeks early at less than three pounds. Doctors said she can’t produce adipose tissue, or body fat.
(Watch Lizzie's inspirational videos below.)
“The syndrome to this day is still undiagnosed. There are only three people in the world that we know of personally that do have this syndrome,” said Lizzie.
Lizzie is also blind in her right eye. Because of her disabilities and appearance she quickly learned other kids can be cruel.
“I did have to deal with the other kids calling me 'skinny bones' and 'grandma,'” said Lizzie. “It (bullying) started my first day of kindergarten. There was no easing into it.”
The ridicule and bullying carried on for years.
One of Lizzie’s worst experiences was in high school while on the internet. She came across a video that was labeled “world’s ugliest woman” and it was a short clip of Lizzie.
“I scrolled down and saw there was thousands and thousands of comments and I sat there and cried my eyes out and read every single comment. And not one of them was positive— not one of them stood up for me,” said Lizzie.
Shortly after that Lizzie decided she would stand up for herself...and others, too.
“I started realizing this syndrome is in my hands now. I can either make the best of it or stay home and cry to myself,” Lizzie said.
Since then, Lizzie has written two books that aim to help people troubled by bullying, or self-esteem issues. For the last six years she has also traveled the country as a motivational speaker. Lizzie's message is so inspirational it's catching the attention of a nationwide audience and has been featured on several national shows.
“It's unbelievable to have the response of people who see my story and tell me their story,” said Lizzie. “Or people who were close to committing suicide, see my story and realize there's a way they can go on.”
And it's that response that makes Lizzie realize helping others is her calling.
“I feel like this is my purpose in life, and I’ve been very blessed to find it at such a young age,” said Lizzie.
Lizzie is already working on a third book and hopes to graduate from Texas State University this spring. She plans to continue motivational speaking.