Words can be used for good or evil, as we are all, well aware. The expression “sticks and stones may break my bones” isn’t always comforting or nearly enough to shrug off insults. In a world where people can easily hide behind computers to blast their praises, opinions, and biases, it’s no wonder internet comments have received so much attention. How do you manage the feedback? Where do you draw the line? There must be boundaries put in place because it is never okay to cyber taunt, tease or bully another human being.
Cyber-Bullying gained national attention as cases grew in severity. How would it make you feel to open up your social media to comments like “You are the world’s ugliest woman or Kill it with fire.” What if a complete stranger published a post telling you to just kill yourself – it happened to Lizzie Velazquez at the age of seventeen.
Lizzie was born in Austin,Texas on March 13, 1989. She was born with a very rare disease that does not allow her to gain weight. Physically, she doesn’t look like the average teenager. When she came into the world, doctors did not give her parents assurance she would survive. There were only 1 of 3 known cases of the disease. They believed she would not have a viable life but she defied expectations.
Growing up, Lizzie’s parents tried to give her a normal upbringing without allowing the genetic condition to be a crutch. She had family and friends who knew her all her life as just Lizzie. It wasn’t until late high school where she opened up herself to the internet, as all the kids were doing when she found out how cruel society can be for someone that looks different than everyone else. Her appearance was ridiculed, creating a firestorm of insults towards her.
Initially, suffering in silence, Lizzie was able to rise above all the negative trolls. She used her pain to engulf a wrath of positive light. The young woman set a trail of motivation to help others, as well as, herself on the path to healing. She used her voice to speak out against bullying.
Today, the once bullied girl is an empowered woman who has realized the goals she set out to accomplish. As an author of 3 books and Lizzie’s Project, a movie based on her life, she is shining. Also, becoming a motivational speaker and Ted Talks presenter has helped reach millions of people. Her messages about fighting negative body image and cyberbullying are now rampant. She is the anti-bullying buster on a mission to spread kindness. What a way to turn a negative into a positive!
The next time you are drafting a comment for a post, remember that words matter. We have the ability to hurt others with what comes out of our mouths and is written. There are endless examples of the pain attached to negative verbiage throughout history. Think before you write or speak words that cause irreparable damage. Hopefully, Lizzie encourages a new generation of heroes to speak out against bullying. Way to go Lizzie!