When Lizzie Velasquez was in high school, she discovered a YouTube video with millions of views that had dubbed her the “The World’s Ugliest Woman.” As she discussed in an excellent TED talk, in the face of such massive cyberbullying, she was forced to ask herself, “Am I going to let the people who called me a monster define me?”

Not content to let the bullies win, Lizzie decided that “I’m going to let my goals and my success and my accomplishments be the things that define me. Not my outer appearance. Not the fact that I’m visually impaired… So I told myself that I’m going to work my butt off to do whatever I could because, in my mind, the best way that I could get back at all those people that made fun of me, who teased me, who called me ugly, who called me a monster, was to make myself better and to show them, you know what, tell me those negative things and I going to turn them around and use them as a ladder to climb up to my goals. And, that’s what I did.”

Lizzie, who has a rare medical condition which causes her to have no fatty tissue and weight only 60 pounds, responded to the hurtful words by becoming an author and motivational speaker. Now, at age 25, she’s given hundreds of workshops on “embracing uniqueness, dealing with bullies, and overcoming obstacles.” She also recently graduated from college and completed her third book.

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