A woman who refuses to be defined by her bullies has taken to social media to address the internet’s nasty meme culture and slam the way it mocks innocent people whose images are being used without their consent.
When she was just 17 Lizzie Velasquez discovered a YouTube video featuring her, it was titled “World’s Ugliest Woman”. The video went for eight seconds and there was no sound but somehow it has managed to garner millions of views and thousands and thousands of nasty comments – many telling the then teenager to self-harm.
Instead of being broken by the experience Lizzie, who was born with 'lipodystrophy', a rare genetic disease that inhibits the growth of fat beneath the skin, took her hurt and has channelled it into becoming an anti-bullying activist.
Since then, the 27-year-old author and motivational speaker from Texas has amassed a strong following – her Ted talk on bullying has more than 13 million views – and on the weekend she posted a meme on her Instagram to share with her supporters the kinds of horrible things she still finds about herself online.
“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,” Lizze wrote.
“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.”
Lizzie continued to try and spread her message of hope, and to try and remind the internet’s netizens to put their humanity ahead of a cheap laugh.
“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.”
She signed off: “Spread love not hurtful words via a screen. Xoxo Lizzie”
The inspirational post has been inundated with hundreds of kind comments and the support might have helped shut down a Facebook page known for promoting mean viral memes.
Of the news that the page had been shut down Lizzie took the Facebook to say she was “over the moon with gratitude!”
“Positive change is possible when we all work together!!!” she wrote.
If you or anyone you know is having any issues with bullying or mental health contact Lifeline on 13 11 14
VIDEO: Watch Lizzie Velasquez deliver a powerful TED Talk...