Lizzie Velasquez is a twenty six years old Texan. She was born with a rare congenital condition that amongst other symptoms severely restricts her ability to acquire body fat. She currently weighs about sixty pounds and you can imagine that her life thus far has been filled with struggle and never-ending hospital visits. Intellectually she is not impaired and has become quite a feisty young woman in spite of everything.
This weekend the BBC news website has highlighted Lizzie's story. And what really caught my attention was the torment that she suffered a few years back while surfing the net. Within YouTube she discovered an eight second video clip that had received four million hits. It was titled "The World's Ugliest Woman". Out of curiosity she clicked on further and was horrified to discover that she herself was subject of this gratuitous amateur film clip.
That would have been bad enough but then she went on to read the the thousands of comments that had attached themselves to the clip like barnacles around a sewage pipe. Most of them were horrible - suggesting that someone should put Lizzie down, "kill it with fire" and "Why did her parents keep her?" Terrible, heartless words when what Lizzie genuinely deserved was praise and admiration. It beggars belief.
Fortunately, with the passage of time those cruel, inhuman comments appear to have spurred Lizzie on instead of defeating her. She was always secure about the love of her family and friends - people who actually knew her. Now she has become a motivational speaker and a campaigner for the rights of the disabled and those who suffer from congenital diseases. You might say that she speaks for beauty while those who took pleasure in mocking her represent the real ugliness in our midst.
She said this:-
"I've learned that there's one very simple thing that every single person can do, and all it is is looking someone in the eye, acknowledging that they're a human being just like you and me, smiling and saying hi. It opens up a world of doors that people don't realize."