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Celebrity

How Lizzie Velasquez, Once Called 'World's Ugliest Woman,' Is Fighting Bullies with Her New Film

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Prepare to be inspired.

A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story is finally coming to theaters Friday.

The documentary, directed by Sara Bordo, gives an inside look into how 26-year-old Velasquez emerged as an impactful, passionate activist after enduring the cruelty of online bullies.

Velasquez’s journey into the spotlight started when she came across a YouTube video that labeled her the “world’s ugliest woman” when she was just 17 years old.

Though watching the video was initially crushing, the experience inspired Velasquez, who has a rare syndrome that prevents her from gaining weight, to dedicate her life to helping others cope with bullying.

“I knew this is my purpose, this is what I’m meant to do for the rest of my life, because I like to think that I’m not only telling my story – I’m telling everyone’s story,” she says in the film’s trailer.

Now an accomplished motivational speaker and YouTuber, Velasquez is committed to changing lives all over the world. Even stars like Kylie Jenner have gushed about their admiration for the role model.

YouTube star iJustine (née Justine Ezarik) collaborated with Velasquez on the film as a producer after connecting with her on Instagram. The pair chatted about the documentary at VidCon in July.

Related Video: iJustine Interviews Lizzie Velasquez at VidCon


A Brave Heart is already impressing viewers. It picked up honors on this year’s festival circuit, including the prestigious Audience Award at South by Southwest.

The documentary includes a special version of Sara Bareilles’ “Brave” and a new track from the singer called “Beautiful Girl.”

If we know anything about Velasquez, A Brave Heart is just one of many heartfelt projects she has up her sleeve. The motivational speaker makes it clear in the trailer that she has no intention of backing down anytime soon.

“All I know is being knocked down and getting back up,” she says. “I’m not going to go away until they listen.”

For more on Lizzie Velasquez and A Brave Heart, check out next week’s issue of PEOPLE.