Lizzie Velasquez was born with a rare condition that left her teased and cyberbullied as an adult. Now, she’s made a film about her experience, which premiered at South by Southwest Saturday.
Velasquez, 24, was only two pounds when she was born and doctors told her parents that she would never crawl, walk, or talk, MyFoxAustin reported. Her condition does not allow her to gain weight, which has caused accelerated aging of her face and body, making her look decades older. Doctors aren’t sure what she has, but some experts believe she has a form of neonatal progeroid syndrome, a rare genetic disorder characterized by elderly appearance, inability to store body fat, thin skin, and rigid joints, according to Medical Daily.
When she was in high school, a YouTube video profiling her went viral and she was deemed the “World’s Ugliest Woman.” But Velasquez rose above it all, graduating from Texas State University and becoming a motivational speaker.
“If you get knocked down, you get back up. Because that's been my mindset, I think that's been the key to how I've been able to get where I am today," she told MyFoxAustin.
Now, in her film “A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story,” the Texas native is sharing her story and using her experience with bullying to inspire others.
"I really liked it. I cried at one part, but most of the time I had to hold it in," Jennifer Guajardo, a fifth grade student, told the news station.
"Lizzie has helped me understand the value of the preciousness of the moment and there's absolutely no time to waste," Sara Hirsh Bordo, the film’s director, told MyFoxAustin.
"The values and the courage and the strength, it's been instilled in me since day one,” Velasquez told the news station.