When Lizzie Velasquez was 17 years old she stumbled across a YouTube video called ‘The World’s Ugliest Woman’.
Intrigued, she clicked on the video and watched in horror as her face appeared on screen.
In just eight-seconds her life turned upside down. But it wasn’t just the video that turned her stomach, it was the awful comments that accompanied it.
One read: ‘Why would her parents keep her?’
Another said: ‘Kill it with fire’.
The nasty comments just went on and on. The video itself had gained more than 4 million view, she said.
‘I was shocked,’ Ms Velasquez, now 26, who has two rare conditions – Marfan and lipodystrophy – said. ‘I cried for many nights – as a teenager I thought my life was over,” she says. “I couldn’t bring myself to talk to anybody about it, I didn’t tell any of my friends, I was just so shocked that it had happened.’
Her story will now be the focus of a new film by the southwest festival in Austin, Texas, and in particular – how she overcame the cyberbullies and how she lives daily with her conditions
Ms Velasquez, who is 5ft 2ins, is blind in her right eye and weighs about 60lbs. Her lipodystrophy means she struggles to maintain her weight and lacks energy. She also struggles with fighting off infections.
But Ms Velasquez has not let the bullies – or her condition – deter her from remaining positive.
She launched a Youtube channel, which has 26,000 subscribers, to help others feel comfortable in their skin as well as showing the bullies that they are wrong.
She has also teamed up with Tina Meier, the mother of Megan who took her own life after being cyberbullied, and they are working on a campaign to bring out a government-backed anti-bullying bill.