Lizzie Velásquez
Lizzie Velásquez is an inspiring anti-bullying activist and YouTube star who was once labeled “the world’s ugliest woman.”

It’s not been an easy road for Lizzie Velasquez with cyberbullying garnering more attention as people are learning about the unconventional form of bullying that takes place using the Internet. The psychological outcomes of cyberbullying are similar to that of real-life bullying, and the victims are equally at risk of depression and suicide. It is within this context that we’re aloud to see the horror and inspiration of Lizzie Velásquez’ story: the 26-year-old Texas native was only a student in high school when she stumbled upon a YouTube video of herself with millions of views that was titled “World’s Ugliest Woman.”

Instead of turning the cyberbullying to hate, Velasquez decided to start making inspirational YouTube videos with various topics including makeup tips, daily updates, etc… And shortly after a YouTube video of her powerful talk at a regional TEDx went viral Lizzie became world known and started a global tour, where she caught director Sara Bordo’s attention. Bordo later pitched the idea to turn Lizzie’s story into a documentary which indeed came to life as “A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story” and debuted at this year’s SXSW in Velasquez’s hometown, Austin, Texas.

“People are hungry for a hero,” Bordo said. “Her story has to do with survival and getting to the other side of a really, really pervasive issue [of] bullying.” Before the movie premiere, both Lizzie and her parents said it would be a very emotional experience to watch the film. “I’m going to be crying the entire time. It’s unreal,” she said about her time at SXSW. “It’s like a dream I didn’t know I had.” While Velasquez’s mom, Rita said “It’s amazing. Just to see the [movie] put together is inspiring. To see her accomplish all of this is inspiring.”

Velasquez wanted the viewers to receive a message of hope with the movie and to know, “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel of being bullied. Having struggles, but it’s going to be OK.”

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