Texas girl with rare condition hopes to make documentary - KMSP-TV

Texas girl with rare condition hopes to make documentary

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Austin,TX (KTBC)-Lizzie Velasquez was once called the "ugliest woman in the world," but the 25-year-old has turned the pain of bullying into an inspiring story of hope for thousands of people.

Since FOX 7 last spoke with Lizzie less than two years ago, she's graduated from Texas State University.

"I've been traveling more, speaking more, things have been really amazing," said the motivational speaker who has also made several guest appearances on talk shows.

She's been working on her third book titled "Choosing Happiness" and if you know Lizzie, you know that's what she does.

"Choosing happiness is an option that I struggle with every day, but it's becoming easier for me to pick every day," she said. "It's one of those things where I fell into my lap as well as speaking and everything else."

Lizzie has an extremely rare syndrome where she is unable to gain weight. Doctors have said only two other people in the world are known to have her condition. She is also blind in her right eye. In a world that puts so much emphasis on appearance, Lizzie has had to deal with more than her fair share of bullying. When she was a teenager she came across a YouTube video calling her the "ugliest woman in the world." She spoke about that video at the TEDx Austin Women conference last year.

"(There were) thousands of comments. People saying, 'Lizzie, please, please just do the world a favor, put a gun to your head and kill yourself,'" she told the crowd.

"People can say really awful things with the touch of a keyboard and it's a situation and something I've always been prepared for," she said about cyber-bullying.

But, Lizzie chose to turn that incredibly hurtful situation around. She's also seen firsthand how much good can come from the internet and social media. Her inspirational speech at that conference got about five million views in one week.

"Once I realized that even though someone doesn't have my syndrome they can related to something that I've gone through and to me that made me really excited and made me want to get to know other people and in return meeting those other people, really helped my confidence and my self-esteem and helped me figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life," she says.

Lizzie's YouTube channel has more than 130,000 subscribers and she has nearly 34,000 followers on Twitter. Now her story has sparked a Kickstarter campaign to get a documentary film made following her life.

"She represents going against adversity and coming out on the other side of that with a lot of grace and a really great story to tell," said Sara Bordo, a member of "Team Lizzie" who plans to direct and produce the film.

She's determined to share Lizzie's experience with bullying and her journey to the other side.

"There's something that is very profound about what she's here to do. And her sense of purpose was so clear it's something you can't deny."

Making the film is just one more goal that Lizzie is set out to accomplish. There's no doubt she'll continue to inspire people around the world along the way.

"I'm pouring my heart and soul into it. There's so many people who have rallied around me and I'm ready to take full advantage of the stage that they're helping me build and see where it goes because who knows with my life, who knows where the next day is going to lead."

 

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