Monday, 23 January 2017

Anti-bullying activist Lizze Velasquez

Challenges meme culture in brave Instagram post
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: Lizzie Velasquez and Sara Hirsh Bordo attend AOL Build to discuss 'A Brave Heart:: The Lizzie Velasquez Story' at AOL Studios on September 24, 2015 in New York City

Lizzie Velasquez knows a thing or two about appearance-based hate, but she knows more about putting up a fight against this hate.

The anti-bullying activist spoke out against memes featuring herself and real people. The 27-year-old woman, who lives with a neonatal progeroid syndrome which prevents her from accumulating body fat, bravely posted a meme featuring herself and subtext that suggests she is undesirable because of how she looks.

In response, the Austin-native fights back against the harmful words in the meme with a challenge to the meme creators and community.

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Neonatal progeroid syndrome

Neonatal progeroid syndrome is a rare genetic syndrome characterized by an aged appearance at birth. Other signs and symptoms include intrauterine growth restriction, feeding difficulties, distinctive craniofacial features, hypotonia, developmental delay and mild to severe intellectual disability. In most cases, affected infants pass away before age 7 months, but rare reports exist of survival into the teens or early 20s. Although the exact underlying cause of neonatal progeroid syndrome is unknown, it is likely a genetic condition that is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. Treatment is symptomatic and supportive.

The signs and symptoms of neonatal progeroid syndrome vary but may include:
  • Subcutaneous lipoatrophy (deficiency or absence of the fat layer beneath the skin) which gives infants an aged appearance at birth
  • Intrauterine growth restriction
  • Failure to thrive
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Distinctive craniofacial features such as a triangular face; large skull with wide anterior (front) fontanelle; small, underdeveloped facial bones; natal teeth; low-set, posteriorly (towards the back) rotated ears, ectropion; and/or unusually sparse scalp hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes
  • Thin arms and legs with disproportionately large hands and feet
  • Small fingers and toes with underdeveloped nails
  • Osteopenia (low bone density)
  • Horizontal nystagmus
  • Developmental delay
  • Mild to severe intellectual disability
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A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story
Lizzie Velasquez has a rare congenital disease that impedes her from accumulating body fat. Foto: Thao Doan

Nine years ago, an anonymous person posted a video of Lizzie Velasquez at age 13 and titled it, “The World’s Ugliest Woman.” It went viral. This is her response.

There is one question I’ve been asked many times: “If you could talk to the person who posted that awful video about you, what would you say?” My answers have ranged from wanting to scream “WHY ME?!” all the way to saying I would give you the biggest hug and thank you for one of the biggest blessings in my life. To have to process what I would say after that is leaving me at a loss for words.

I believe with every fiber in my being that you and I were meant to be in each other’s lives. Mind you, I don’t know your sex, I don’t know your age and I don’t know where you’re from. At the end of the day, those are just facts. What I do know is that you have changed my life and the lives of people around the world.

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A Motivational Speaker
'World's ugliest woman' becomes motivational speaker

She has been given a title no woman will ever want to have.

She was labelled the world's ugliest woman by heartless netizens.

But that did not stop Ms Lizzie Velasquez, 24, from channelling the hatred into motivation and spreading the message of acceptance.

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