Lizzie Velasquez was called the ‘world’s ugliest,’ now she’s a global inspiration

If you’re in need of a super inspirational story to get you through today, Lizzie Velasquez’s saga is the story for you.

The now-26-year-old became a viral sensation almost a decade ago when, as a teenager, she was dubbed “The World’s Ugliest Woman” on the Internet. Velasquez was born with Marfan syndrome (a genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue) and lipodystrophy (a medical condition that affects her weight ). What this means for Lizzie is that she has zero percent body fat, she must consume at least 5,000 calories a day to survive, she has never weighed more than 64 pounds, she has a weak immune system, and she is blind in one eye and has poor vision in the other. Her condition is so rare that only two other people in the world share it. Her condition has shaped the way she looks and because the condition is so rare, people aren’t used to seeing a person look like Lizzie.  When Lizzie was 17, she found a video about herself online, in which she had been named “The Ugliest Woman in the World.” Comments on the video included such horrific statements as “Ewwww,” “She’s a ,monster,” and “Kill it with fire.”

One of the worst things about us humans is that we make “different” synonymous with “ugly,” and it’s one of the worst things about the Internet, that so many strangers feel not only comfortable, but outright entitled to ostracizing a teenage girl for her differences.

Lizzie Velasquez did the best thing you can do with her Internet nightmare:

She turned it into a teachable moment, and she’s built a career as a motivational speaker telling her story. She gave a TED talk in 2013 in which she redefines beauty for herself. It has, as of this writing, racked up over 7 million views. The vid made me cry ALL the tears, check it out below:

Now, Lizzie’s taking her story to the big screen. As Cosmopolitan reports, her documentary “A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez story” just premiered at South by Southwest. I know I just said that Lizzie’s TED talk made me cry all the tears, but oh man, the trailer for this documentary just made me cry EVEN MORE TEARS.