Hello, I am Lizzie Velasquez.

I was born with a very rare syndrome that makes it difficult for me to gain weight. At 17, I found a video that a stranger made on YouTube, calling me "the World's Ugliest Woman." And from that, I turned a negative experience into a positive one, and became a motivational speaker against bullying. I've also written 3 books.

As a result of my experiences, in December 2013, I gave a TED Talk on How YOU define yourself that went viral.

I am the subject of the new film A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story, which premiered at SXSW today.

You can follow me on social media:

And I'm looking forward to answering your questions today. Victoria's with me in Austin. AMA.


Update: I appreciate every. single. one. of your comments, and support, and you joining us and being behind us. And I can't wait to take you on this next journey with us.

Comments: 74 • Responses: 25  • Date: 

timvasion20 karma

Hey Lizze! I actually found out about you the other day and watched a your TEDx Talk and some of your YouTube videos and you are just such an amazing person! You have such an amazing personality and a wonderful out look on life. You are definitely one of my favorite people!

Would you rather fight 100 duck sized horses or one horse sized duck?

LizzieVelasquez44 karma

looks surprised


The first one. The little horses. Because there's more opportunities to make friends with them.

Topiary_goat20 karma

You seem like an incredibly strong and positive person. You've commented in one answer here that "it's so easy to fall into a trap of negativity." Do you ever get really upset these days about personal comments about you? Are there any times when it just really gets to you, or do you find it relatively easy to brush it off nowadays?

LizzieVelasquez25 karma

Such a well thought-out question.

I absolutely do have days where things get to me. I have a lot of confidence in myself. BUT I am human, and there are times when comments get to me. But I've always said "No matter what, with the good comes the bad," so I can't let it sink in.

randomfrost15 karma

How did or how do your parents react to bullying? You have been raised very well. I would think many people would have a natural instinct to get upset or angry watching their child be subjected to bullying or name calling. Have fun this weekend, all the best, thanks for your time!

LizzieVelasquez23 karma

They were ... let me ask them... one second.

walks outside of room to ask parents

So they listened to me and were very comforting. They never let me see that they were upset. They were always very positive with me. Positive, and reassuring.

32brownies14 karma

Who inspires you? also, what's your favorite ice cream flavor?

LizzieVelasquez20 karma

Chocolate chip cookie dough!

Every day people, like people from around the world who email me and tell me their stories. That's what keeps me going.

I get all kinds of messages. In general, it's people who - in the beginning of the email - will tell me the struggles they've had, but after they hear my story, how much better their life has gotten and how happy they are.

I've gotten emails from Australia, Japan... all over the world.

32brownies8 karma

I like cookie dough too. You are a huge inspiration to me and I loved your ted talk.

LizzieVelasquez14 karma

Thank you so much!! I eat a cookie dough ice cream cone every night. I really do!

blacktetu13 karma

i very like you, you're strong and you don't care about what we can think about you and i very like your personnality, i watch all your videos, i begin to be a fan , sorry for my english i'm french. well, my questions is: would you come in france one day?

LizzieVelasquez13 karma

I would love to go to France one day! It seems like an amazing and beautiful place.

Frajer10 karma

Why do you think people bully? What's the best way to discourage bullying?

LizzieVelasquez20 karma

To discourage it?

I think we all have to remember that people bully others because they are hurting from something themselves.

And we always have to keep that in mind.

To discourage it... I think just knowing sometimes words can hurt more than actions. And you never know how hard something you say could hit someone. I think just being open-minded, and knowing that everyone has their own story, and taking that into consideration, before judging them or hurting them.

dragonfly199310 karma

who are your favorite inspirational speakers?

LizzieVelasquez14 karma

Bill Rancik! Tina Meyer, and Nick Vujicic. He just had his first son with his wife, and they're expecting another.

dragonfly19935 karma

that is really cool. how long did it take to make the movie?

LizzieVelasquez9 karma

It took a little over a year to shoot and edit and get it all done. In May of 2014 we started the crowdfunding campaign, on May 1st, and we went until May 30th. And we made our goal, we reached it a week early, and then we went into production a week after May 30th. The story came from the director Sara Bordo, myself, and Michael Campo.

beernerd10 karma

As an Austin Native, how do you feel about premiering A Brave Heart at SXSW?

LizzieVelasquez15 karma

It is THE BIGGEST HONOR that I could ever ask for.

I can't picture our movie premiering anywhere else besides our hometown of Austin.

And the theater was packed! There was a huge line, I wish I could've seen it. Everyone just told me about it.

beernerd5 karma

I saw the line. It was substantial.

What advice would you have for aspiring filmmakers looking to make their debut at SXSW next year?

LizzieVelasquez13 karma

I'm just the subject of the movie. And this is my first time going to SXSW. What a way to kick it off!

tit_wrangler9 karma

What is your response to the common claim that bullying "builds character" or "is just a part of growing up" or that people need to just "get over it"?

LizzieVelasquez16 karma

I don't agree with any of those.

I think that bullying is something we all unfortunately have to deal with. It's up to us how we allow it to affect us. Because I mean, I would never say it's something you just "have to get over" because you never could know how much it could affect someone's life.

It would be better if we could have plans of action when it happens, and resources for those who are affected.

coscorrodrift9 karma

Do you speak Spanish? If so, have you been to a Spanish-speaking country, and how was the experience?

Keep going, you are a great person, and ignore the haters! Keep vlogging, I'm a subscriber and I find your vids really interesting!

LizzieVelasquez13 karma

I don't speak Spanish, and I spoke to 10,000 people in a Spanish-speaking country. Luckily, there was a translator! There's not a video on YouTube, but you can see it in the movie A BRAVE HEART.

THANKS SO MUCH!!! YAY!!!! Thank you so much.

sexrockandroll9 karma

How did you get into being a speaker? What made you decide to become one?

LizzieVelasquez24 karma

It came to me by accident.

When I was a sophomore in High school, our assistant principal asked me to speak to 400 9th graders, and I told her "no." And then she told me to think about it, and I did. And luckily I did it, and i knew right then and there that that was what I had to do the rest of my life.

My first speech was about my story, and the things that I've gone through, as far as bullying.

You could've heard a pin drop in the room. It was so quiet.

And then at the end - kids who were super-tough and seemed like they wouldn't show emotion couldn't even speak because they had tears in their eyes, and they were so touched by what I had to say.

After my first speech, I actually googled how to be a motivational speaker, and then I made an email address, and I emailed a bunch of random places, and said "If you need a speaker, I'm your girl."

I didn't include that I've only done one speech in my life. And I started using that to build my experience, until I started getting paid for it, which probably wasn't until 2 or 3 years later.

And the rest is history (to say the least).

sexrockandroll8 karma

How did you get the courage to give that first speech? I would have found that terrifying.

LizzieVelasquez20 karma

I went home and told my parents about the offer, and they encouraged me to do it, and said they would be in the front row cheering me on.

And they were!

IKingJeremy8 karma

How do you prepare for your speeches.

LizzieVelasquez14 karma

I always tell myself - I first decide what I want my main message to be. And then I think of 3-4 main bullets. And then I just go from there.

I always have the same general outline, or plan, but then I adapt it to my audience.

IKingJeremy6 karma


And how do you remember what you plan to say?

Do you use notecards, a notebook, or just practice a lot beforehand?

LizzieVelasquez9 karma

Practicing actually makes me really nervous. If I overthink it, it doesn't come out as natural. So I'll write on anything - a napkin, whatever, and just remember the points that I want to get across, and then I go up onstage, speak from my heart, and everything just seems to fall into place.

randomfrost8 karma

Do people still bully you and/or say hurtful things and if so, how do you react to them today?

LizzieVelasquez12 karma

They do. I still see things online that are hurtful. But you have a choice, and you can take the high road, and not bully the bully back. It's so easy to fall into a trap of negativity. OR you make the choice to take the high road, and not bully the bully back.

zakaer7 karma

Do you like turtles?

LizzieVelasquez17 karma

Yeah! Why not? Who doesn't like turtles?

FreddyFazBAM7 karma

How would you deal with bullying today? Like, how would you respond to it?

LizzieVelasquez13 karma


How would I respond? I think... instead of saying something mean back, I would just acknowledge how I feel, and say something like "I'm sorry you feel that way" and then just maybe change the subject to something positive.

LaustinDWoods7 karma

I just watched your TED talk video and I am amazed at how good you are at public speaking. Keep you the good work and happy birthday! What advice would you have for someone who has a negative view of themselves?

LizzieVelasquez14 karma

Tell them THANK YOU so very much! I used to have a very negative view on myself. And I realized that there's no other way that I could help anyone else, unless I learned to love myself first, from the inside out.

So I actually - did a "love yourself" list, and I wrote down everything I liked about myself, whether it was my personality, or my appearance, and I posted it in my bathroom, and I read it until I believed it. So anytime someone was negative to me, or I started comparing myself or doubting myself, I would remind myself of my list.

So try writing a list for yourself. And if you can't think of how to start, go up to someone and ask "what do you like about me?" And use that as a spark to inspire yours.

blacktetu6 karma

how old are you?

LizzieVelasquez15 karma

I just turned 26 yesterday!

TheJackal86 karma

What do you think everyone should always keep in mind?

LizzieVelasquez13 karma


Just as you are!

marcmcvitie4 karma

What is your favourite movie?

LizzieVelasquez12 karma

STEEL MAGNOLIAS. Can I just say - Sally Field is doing her panel TOMORROW right after me, in the same room!?!?! My panel is at 12:30 tomorrow at the Austin Convention Center!

marcmcvitie6 karma

Wow that's really cool. Sally Field is great. Good choice of movie :)

LizzieVelasquez9 karma

Yeah!!! She's the best!