Woman Once Dubbed 'World's Ugliest' Aims to End Bullying on National Level

Lizzie Velasquez

When it comes to the effect being bullied can have on a person's self-esteem, perhaps no one understands the lasting impression more than Lizzie Velasquez. She was deemed to be the "World's Ugliest Woman" in a YouTube video when she was just a teenager.

Now 25 years old, Lizzie was born with a rare syndrome that prevents her from gaining weight, as she only weighs a mere 58 pounds.

But instead of letting cruel bullies get the best of her, Lizzie has made it her life's mission to make a difference and hopefully put an end to other kids going through the same kind of suffering she was forced to endure.

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She first filmed a documentary, called The Lizzie Project, to share her story, but now her journey has taken an even more important turn.

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Lizzie about her efforts as a Capitol Hill activist, as she travels to Washington, D.C., next week with the hopes of improving the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA).

Tell me more about what you'll be doing in Washington next week to improve SSIA.
There are actually three things I'll be doing when we're in town. First, there will be a public meet-up to help spread the word about creating change for anti-bullying measures on a federal level.

There will also be a briefing on Capitol Hill about the bill, and we will also be doing one-on-one interviews with members of Congress in the hopes of getting it passed.

How would this anti-bullying bill change the way things currently are for our students?
If the bill is passed, two major changes will take place. First, teachers will be further trained to recognize and handle bullying and harassment. Schools will also have to ensure that their codes of conduct specifically prohibit bullying and harassment.

Second, it will bring the terms into legislation so bullying and harassment data is included in schools' state-wide safety assessments.

What needs to be done to make your efforts a success?
Right now we are pushing to get the remaining votes we need so the bill can go to the floor. After that, there will be another vote to determine whether or not it is passed into legislation.

What can we do to help you reach your goal?
You can help by tweeting support of the bill to your local Congressmen! Check this list of Congressmen's Twitter handles by state to find yours. Sharing this important message can truly make a difference!

What advice would you give parents to pass on to their kids when they're being bullied?
My parents always taught me never to have a negative thought in my mind and to always be myself. They taught me a little trick to help me get through the difficult times. I would recite a mantra like, "I'm smart, I'm beautiful, I'm strong ..." and it truly did make a difference.

 

Image via Lizzie Velasquez

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