'Ugliest Woman in the World' Changes Everything You Know About Beauty

lizzie velasquez sxswOne of the most inspiring women of the past year is back in the news, this time for an exciting project. Lizzie Velasquez, once called the "ugliest woman in the world," debuted her documentary "A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story," at the South by Southwest music and film festival this weekend.

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By now you're probably familiar with Velasquez's story. Born with an undiagnosed disorder that makes it nearly impossible to gain weight, she was looking for music videos on YouTube one day. What she found instead was something that would destroy most of us: A video mocking her for her looks, with some of the ugliest comments you'll ever find on the Internet.

More from The Stir: Woman Once Dubbed 'World's Ugliest' Aims to End Bullying on a National Level

But she turned it around. Refusing to play the victim, Velasquez created a video introducing herself and forcing the world to see her as a human being with feelings. She went on to give an inspiring TedTalk, and soon she was inspiring people everywhere. Anyone who has ever been bullied or ridiculed can find strength in Velasquez's confidence.

Some people say it doesn't matter what Velasquez does to try to end bullying -- haters gonna hate, and that's never going to change. Maybe that's true. But one thing we can change is how we respond to trolls and bullies. We can play the role of the victim. Or we can choose something else. I think that's what makes Velasquez's story and message so powerful.

As Velasquez told the Austin Chronicle, "I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. At all. I want them to leave [the film] and feel empowered for themselves and, hopefully, for other people.”

So the big question is, how do we see this film?

Right now A Brave Heart is being shown at film festivals. Hopefully it will open to wide release soon. You can learn more about the film and Velasquez's anti-bullying project at ABraveHeartFilm.com.

Has Lizzie Velasquez's story changed the way you feel about yourself or your feelings about victimhood?

 

Image via Michael Buchner/Getty Images Entertainment

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