This woman hit back after being the subject of a horrific internet meme
An activist who is one of the latest victims of cruel internet memes has spoken out.
Lizzie Velasquez, an author, campaigner and motivational speaker, found herself the subject of the widely shared meme which asks people to tag their friends.
She was featured in the meme because of her physical appearance. Velasquez was born with a rare congenital disease which means her body does not sustain fat, and has also been diagnosed with Marfan syndrome.
The picture of Valesquez featured her standing by a tree, and was captioned: “Michael said he would meet me behind this tree for a bit of fun.
“He’s running late, would someone please tag him and tell him I’m still waiting?”
But rather than shy away after discovering the vile meme, Valesquez decided to do something about it.
Posting to her more than 100,000 followers, she wrote: “I’ve seen a ton of memes like this all over Facebook recently. I’m writing this post not as someone who is a victim but as someone who is using their voice.
“Yes, it’s very late at night as I type this but I do so as a reminder that the innocent people that are being put in these memes are probably up just as late scrolling through Facebook and feeling something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
“No matter what we look like or what size we are, at the end of the day we are all human. I ask that you keep that in mind the next time you see a viral meme of a random stranger.
“At the time you might find it hilarious but the human in the photo is probably feeling the exact opposite. Spread love not hurtful words via a screen. Xoxo Lizzie.”
The post has been shared by more than 95,000 people.
Valesquez’s mother also wrote: “As Lizzie’s mom this hurts beyond words. But I stand with you to say spread love PLEASE. Love you Lizzie!”
Despite overcoming bullying and becoming an active member of her high school’s cheerleading team and student newspaper, when Velasquez was 17, she came across something horrifying.
A video of her appeared on YouTube titled ‘The World’s Ugliest Woman’.
She read through tens of thousands of comments telling her to kill herself and saying her parents should have got rid of her, desperately trying to find one sticking up for her. She could not.
Velasquez is the subject of a documentary ‘A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story’, she also gives motivational talks.
She plans to take her documentary right to the top, and has lobbied for a federal anti-bullying bill currently stalled in Congress.
What has changed since Velasquez was at school? She says bullying can now be “24/7” because of the internet, and that things are worse than ever.
The anti-bullying bill, which has been stalled for eight years, and is stuck at a committee stage in the House and Senate would mean schools would have to create anti-bullying policies and to publicly report incidents.
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“Young girls and boys from all around the world let me know their personal story, and I can feel their smile through their words,” Velasquez told the Washington Post.
“To be able to look at those comments and just get encouragement from them and know that I am living the life that I’m supposed to is what keeps me going every day.”