I Choose To Be Happy: Lizzie Valasquez at TEDxYouth@Austin

Hello, everybody. I want you to do something
with me really quick. I want you to all think in your head, remember the time — because I know every single one of you
in here have done this — when you’re procrastinating
doing homework and you’re procrastinating by
listening to music on YouTube. Now, you know,
when you’re looking at YouTube, and you are watching a video, there’s “related videos” on the
right-hand side of the screen. I want you to imagine that you are listening to
some random song and you see a little picture
on the right-hand side that looks pretty familiar. So, you click on it. And what you see is something
that will change your entire life. Now imagine if you clicked on the video, and you realized
that somebody posted a video of you, and labelled it “The World’s Ugliest Woman,” or “Man.” Think for a second. How would you feel? How do you think somebody
would feel if they found that? I will tell you, because it happened to me. And the moment I found this video, I was given two options. I could either choose happiness, or I could choose to give up. Now being in this situation
isn’t something that’s new to me, because I was born with
a very, very rare syndrome. There are only 3 people, including myself, that we know of
that have this syndrome. I am 24 years old. I’ve never weighed
over 62 pounds in my entire life. I literally could eat whatever I want, whenever I want, and not gain weight. Now it might sound pretty amazing. It is. Let’s just be honest. (Laughter) But I am so small and I look very different
from other people. So as you can imagine,
when people see me and they have never heard my story, they don’t know who I am
they know nothing about me, they see me and they think, “What’s wrong with that girl?” “What eating disorder does she have?” “Why is she so skinny?”>From the second I was born, the doctors prepared
my parents to expect absolutely nothing out of me. They said I wouldn’t come out crying. They said I’d never talk,
I’d never walk, I’d never crawl, I would literally
accomplish nothing in my life. And my parents said,
“You know what? We’re going to take her home, we’re going to love her, and we’re going to raise her
as best as we can.” (Applause ) So, that’s exactly what they did. They raised me completely normally. I was a cute kid,
I’m not gonna lie. (Laughter) I was so small that my parents
had to go to Toys “R” Us to buy me doll clothes, because regular baby clothes
were way too big on me. If you go like this, that’s the size I was
when I was a baby. I personally don’t remember,
but that’s what my parents told me. I grew up completely normally, so normally to the point that,
when I started kindergarten, I had no clue that I was different. I couldn’t physically see that I looked different
from the other kids. I unfortunately had to find out in a way that I like to think of as a big slap of reality for a 5-year-old. I am sure you guys know the feeling, the night before the first day of school,
when you are super excited, you have that like anxious feeling
in your stomach, because you don’t know
who’s going to be in your class, if you’re going to make friends. That’s what I felt. I had my full lunchbox, my matching bow, my ruffled socks, ready to go. I walked in on the first day, and
I saw a little girl reading a book. I walked up to her,
and I smiled at her, and she looked up at me like I was the scariest thing
she’d ever seen. And my first thought was,
“She’s rude. I’m a fun kid.
She is missing out.” (Laughter) So I let it go,
and the rest of the day, unfortunately, didn’t get any better. No one wanted to play with me,
no one wanted to stand by me. No one wanted to have
a single thing to do with me, because I was different. And again, I couldn’t understand, because I was raised so normally. So, going to the playground was hard. I remember climbing up
to the top of the playscape, wanting to go down the slide, but there was a long line. And, as soon as I got up there,
everybody moved. And you would think,
“Yeah, VIP to the slide.” (Laughter) But they were moving
because they were scared of me. So that’s when I had to go home
and ask my parents, “What is wrong with me? Why doesn’t anyone like me?
I’m just like them.” And my parents encouraged me
to go back to school, be myself and eventually they’ll see
that I am just like them. And that’s exactly what I did. So again, at such a young age,
I was forced to be in a situation of, I can either chose to be happy, or I could choose to give up. Luckily, I chose to be happy. As I grew up,
I started making a lot of friends. I am pretty funny. So I made a lot of friends really easily. And once I started making friends, my friends started becoming
my body guards, per se. When people would come up to me and kind of tease me and
make fun of me, which happened often, they would come up and say,
“This is my friend Lizzie, you know. Be nice to her, she is pretty cool.” And luckily, it worked. As I got older, I, of course, had
to deal with a lot of bullying. Luckily no physical bullying,
but a lot of name calling and stares. And so I felt self-conscious, a lot, even though I was so young, because I didn’t look like
the popular girls. But I again continued to be myself. During middle school, I did cheerleading. I was a flyer. You could’ve seen
how high I went up in the air. (Laughter) I’d realized that
I was the people person. I loved being around people, I loved talking to people,
meeting new people. So I joined every organization
that I could think of: high school cheerleading, yearbook staff, newspapers, theater. I hate acting. I won an award in a play. I was doing all of these things, and, once I got to high school,
I was at a very high point, and I felt really good about myself, until the day
I found the YouTube video. This video is 8 seconds long. It had no sound. It had over 4 million views, to this one video, that was 8 seconds long. I scrolled down, and there were
thousands of comments on it, telling me I should kill myself; If people see my face,
they will go blind. So I thought, “Those people… How could they? They don’t know me. They know absolutely nothing about me.” So again, I was put in the position: choosing happiness,
or to choose to give up. And in that moment,
I didn’t want those people to define who I was as a person. I wanted to tell them off, I did, but I told myself, “Lizzie, you are going to
prove to these people that they’re not going to win, and they’re not
going to hold you down. So, at this point, I am deciding, “How am I going to get my ‘revenge’? What am I going to do?” I am a very goal-oriented person. So I decided to set four goals for myself. I decided I was going to be
a motivational speaker. I was going to write a book, I was going to graduate college and I was going to have my own family
and my own career. I made these goals when I was probably a sophomore,
beginning of junior year. 2013 will be my eighth year
of motivational speaking. (Applause) I told myself
I wanted to write a book. I never thought I would be like,
on Harry Potter, or Twillight level, but I knew I want to write a book. My first year of college,
I published my first book, called “Lizzie Beautiful,”
in English and Spanish. (Applause) I never thought it would happen, but I ended up
writing my second book, and it came out this past October, called “Be Beautiful, Be You.” A couple days ago, I got an e-mail
from my publishing house with a release date for my third book. (Applause) I told myself
I wanted to graduate college. And this May, I will be getting my degree from Texas State University. (Applause) My fourth goal was to have
my own family and my own career. The family part, down the line. I am only 24. The career part, I feel like
I have got in a good jump on it. So now, I am faced with: “What’s next? What am I going to do?” One of the biggest motivations for me
to accomplish all those things was that YouTube video. Every time I was sad, every time I doubted myself — you may think
this sounds kind of crazy, and you’re thinking, “Why?” — I would go back to that video and I would look at every comment,
every hateful comment, and it was fuel to my fire
to keep going. Every nasty comment made me want to work even harder, even harder. It’s kind of funny timing,
because my mom said, “Well, your goals are
pretty much going to be all done. What are you going to do now? Are you going to take a rest?” And I said, “No, are you kidding? Why would I waste my time? My next goals
are going to be even bigger.” But that bad video
was finally taken down. So I thought, “Great! Things are looking up. Life is pretty good.” This past Sunday,
as I was preparing for this speech, I started getting
a lot of Tweeter notifications. And when that happens,
my heart sinks, because I never know
if it’s something bad. Unfortunately, it was something bad. Somebody else posted
another bad video of me. This person had over
a million subscribers to his channel. He googled my name in his video, had horrifying music playing
when the search came up, and all his subscribers
started googling me, and sending me really hateful things. My dad’s always told us
you could have your one good cry, and then you have
to pick your chin up, smile, and move onto the positive. I had my one good cry, I smiled, and I said, “What great accomplishment
is this video going to lead to?” (Applause) I told myself, “Lizzie, you are going
to show these people that they’re not going to define you.” I am not going to let the people
who stared at me, the people who called my ugly, the doctors who said
I would never accomplish a thing… They’re not going to define me, and they’re not going to win. I kind of looked at this whole battle of “The World’s Ugliest Women” versus me, and I realized the best revenge is
with your accomplishments. So yes, I won. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “I Choose To Be Happy: Lizzie Valasquez at [email protected]

  1. U give me reason for loving myself.. b4 this i always feel uncomplete.. but now when i see ur video.. u make me realize that what God gives u.. is what u should embrace it with fullest.. YOLO❤ so be happy always..😊

  2. She is so strong. Man. She is beautiful inside out. Different and unashamed. Brave and ambitious. Just look how far she came and how she never gave up but smiles and encourages the entire world. God! To think she went through this and here she is. This is true beauty.

  3. Wish i could give u hug, Flowers and kiss through this video 💕💐😚 anyways lots of love ❤ Keep it up

  4. You are amazing and so beautiful!!! Lots of people are just too stupid and shallow to see the real beauty in this world! I wish you all the best and happiness, I really admire your courage, positivity and hard work. Send you lotssssss of hugs ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️😙🙂

  5. Lizzie is such an amazing and inspiring person. I couldn't imagine enduring that kind of cruelty, and I couldn't imagine how people can be so cruel to another person. Lizzie has become a strong beautiful young lady with such great success. Thank you God for continuing to watch over Lizzie and gave her many blessings!

  6. Dont listen to irrelevant people, i love you and i'll always be there for you…..yhe whole world is full of stupid bullies, criticizing people boosts the ego of some cowards

  7. She has the best parents… I don't know her (but I've seen her in person) and I think she is one of the most beautiful people in the world.

  8. Such patients are supposed to be in great pain because of illness but unexpectedly, they don't care about at all and seems like what really hurts is some people around them.

  9. Hearing ur suffer makes me just wonder how really weak we r ! I mean wut could we've been facing thr yrs of our lives is nothing compared 2 urs
    U r so strong girl keep it up ♡

  10. Definitely Heartfelt!! Lizzie if you are reading this, which I hope you are; you are so Beautiful in the inside and out! Beauty is within and you just defined Beauty Gurl. Much Love and Appreciation 💕👍

  11. Yes!!! You WON!!
    Way to go girl!!
    Your prettier than MOST I've met!! Inside and out!!
    This video should be played in EVERY high school in the United States!!!!!
    BEST motivational speech EVER for young adults
    Thank you!! For being YOU 👍👍👍👍

  12. why are people so jobless, do they really need to send hateful comments to her? but on the other hand, they helped lizzie grow stronger and more successful, who's winning life now?

  13. Amazing lizzie has taught me that to be yourself is fine ,and not to change a thing other people are the ones with the issues ,!!!!!

  14. This is a beautiful testimony of a beautiful person and awesome parents and everything said was a blessing but I I am disappointed in one thing because just prior to this video I heard Lizzie speaking on another video and giving God glory which I didn't hear on this video. ok this may be a Christian representation in a Christian setting but I was so keen to pass this video on to my family but very dissappointed that I never heard the word God throughout….unless I missed it?

  15. What a beautiful soul! People look at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart! She is incredibly beautiful. I’m truly inspired.
    1 Samuel 16:7 ❤️

  16. God bless you and hope much success in your life, keep it up, you are an inspiration to all of us!! Thanks for making me feel this world is worth it!!

  17. Who said your the ugliest woman!?!??! I'M IN TAE KWON DO!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'LL BEAT THEM UP FOR YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!! =)

  18. I look at you lizzie and i say oh wow she doesn't see how amazingly beautiful she really is. your soul and spirit are shinning through.

  19. Men have deep hatred against women they consider ugly. A women wouldn't be posting hate videos of a man she considers unattractive. It is incredible how they hate women they find unattractive. I guess I better purchase my AK47s to protect myself. Lol!

  20. The real ugly ones Lizzie was actually them not you. Their ugly personality will be with them forever. I would date 100% an unattractive guy with a beautiful personality than a good looking man who had an ugly personality. Those type of guys who like bullying girls are not worth it. Their small brain will never know that true beauty comes from the heart not from good looks. Just be thankful you’re not them, because their ignorance has no cure.

  21. Lizzie you are Sooooooo encouraging sharing your story. We all have a story of rejection within and without, but who would of thought of the Simply Brilliant idea of using rejection in a positive way to set goals, and be the best person we can be instead of giving up , giving in and letting our haters win. How incredibly awesome is that. Thank you for all you give back , and for getting up again and again to defy the odds. Winston Churchill said that success is what you experience when you keep getting up every time you fail, or fall down.

  22. I can say dear Lizzie that extremely few people come to your ankle, you can be proud of yourself, you have managed, you fight to transform all the negative and use it as a positive springboard to accomplish all that you have do and you will do MORE, I bow to you, you are beautiful, intelligent, courageous and so many other qualities that are missing in many people, myself included. loving and caring for you dear Lizzie, with all my love and admiration, véronique from France

  23. I know so many beautiful women in term of face and physical.Most are arrogant and rude.They are so proud of their beauty and boys that are crazy about them.They talk rudely to ugly girls and tell us fat and ugly etc.But you lizzie….u are type of person I want to be friends with….U are very kind and very positive……go lizzie!!…

  24. she’s amazing and beautiful what kind of person would say anything horrible like that god forgive❤️

  25. From Japan

  26. I think you are an angel that is here on earth for a purpose. Your parents raised you to be as wonderful and caring as they are and you succeed everyday with your positive attitude.
    There are people in this world that are haters and mean spirited and they will never get it…
    They are failures and that is why they target others. Keep shining and God bless you.
    You are an example of amazing. 🌸🌷

  27. I wonder what makes people so hateful. Like I don’t get what people get out of putting other people down. I’d feel sick inside if I ever did that to someone. Seriously that’s just ghastly…

  28. lizzie if your reading this i also GETTING bullied ,i am 12 years old and i live in South Africa port elizibath you have changed my life because i am busy choosing happiness and people have actual
    stopped bulling me

  29. What a horrible person that posted the 2nd vid! And look! Yet you Overcame it Girl You Did!!! Xxxxxx so much love for you!

  30. Thank you Lizzy you really helped me. I have always believed that the best revenge is to be the best person I can be. Thank you for your strength that you send to us through your videos. God blesses you and all who see your beauty.

  31. You are beautiful. The youtube generation is mostly millennials who have been brainwashed to accept a form of beauty that is superficial, and pornographic. Stay true to your faith, and values because it truly makes you shine.

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