It’s an interesting quandary. Lizzie Velásquez, 28, rose to fame because of her appearance.
Eleven years ago, when she was 17, a person posted a video of her on YouTube and labeled it “The World’s Ugliest Woman.” She became recognizable around the world.
Velásquez has neonatal progeroid syndrome and Marfan syndrome. She has trouble gaining weight and is blind in one eye. At 5 feet 2 inches, she weighs 72 pounds, up from 64 pounds three years ago. “Somehow, I gained weight,” she says with a laugh.
That “ugly” video led to her giving a TEDxAustinWomen talk in 2013 that reached millions of people around the world. She’s written four books, including her newest, “Dare to Be Kind,” which came out this summer, and she was the focus of a documentary, “A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velásquez Story,” which won audience awards at the 2015 South by Southwest. She’s now part of a national anti-bullying ad campaign by the Ad Council, “I Am a Witness.”
Velásquez comes off as very confident. She’s created her own path as an author, speaker and YouTube star, but behind all of it are her own worries: Is she where she is today because of the way she looks? If she didn’t have the syndromes she has, would she be making a living as a speaker? Would people know who she is?
She has to remind herself: “I don’t have to depend on my looks,” she says. “People will listen to me.”