Lizzie Velasquez on Forgiving Bullies Who Called Her 'World's Ugliest Woman': 'They're Doing It from a Place of Hurt'

"When people bully, they're not doing it from a place of hate"

Photo: Travis P Ball/Getty

YouTube star Justine Ezarik and activist Lizzie Velasquez sat down at VidCon on Thursday to chat about an issue that plagues both the Internet famous and the Internet anonymous: bullying.

Velasquez, 26, was born with a rare syndrome that restricts her from gaining weight. She started YouTubing after someone posted a cruel video calling her the “world’s ugliest woman” – and that’s when she learned an important lesson from her father that allowed her to not only move past the bullies but to forgive them.

After telling her parents about the video, which was terrifying in itself, her father told her something that would change her entire outlook.

“My dad said, ‘I know this is awful, but by the way, you have to forgive them. You have to forgive the person that posted and every person that commented because when people bully other people, they’re not doing it from a place of hate. They’re doing it from a place of hurt,’ ” Velasquez told Ezarik, better known to her fans as iJustine. “At the time, I thought he was insane.”

While she struggled to believe him in the moment, she grew to appreciate and gain strength from his words.

“It was such a powerful message,” she said. “You never know what these people are going through that are saying things to you and why – the reason behind it.”

With over 412,000 YouTube subscribers, plans for a fourth book and a feature-length documentary about her life premiering on Sept. 25, it’s safe to say that Velasquez has cruised swiftly past the haters.

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“I think no matter where you come from or what you look like, you can absolutely do and accomplish whatever you put your mind to,” she told Ezarik. “It sounds kind of funny to say this, but I think whatever giant obstacle is thrown your way, you have to be excited to overcome it because it’s going to make you a better person.”

The next thing she’s looking to accomplish? Getting into the culinary world with Ezarik – when they were kids, Velasquez wanted to be a waitress and Ezarik dreamed of becoming a chef.

“We’re opening up a restaurant. We’re done,” she said, joking. (We’re not joking – we need this to happen.)

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