Motivational speaker Lizzie Velasquez is sounding off after a viral TikTok video featuring her image was used as part of a #FacetimePrank. The video films a mom showing her son a picture of Velasquez claiming that it’s his new school teacher, to which the boy responds with fear.
In her TikTok post in response, Velasquez denounced the prank, saying it’s up to parents to teach children to be accepting of people who don’t look like them.
“If you are an adult who has a young human in your life please do not teach them that being scared of someone who doesn’t look like them is OK,” she said. “Everything that these kids need to know about empathy and being kind to one another starts at home.”
Velasquez, who is on TikTok as “LittleLizzieA” has close to 12,000 comments and more than 300,000 likes on her video response.
One fan responded to her comments on Twitter saying, “This resonated with me so much. Those of us who are fighting for #disability rights are battling stigma in our own lives every day. Thank you for reminding people of that.” One TikTok user by the name heavy_metal_learning said, “Thank you for bringing this to light. We can do better #Respect.”
Velasquez, 31, was born with a congenital condition that keeps her from being able to gain weight. The condition is called marfanoid progeroid lipodystrophy syndrome and is caused by a mutation of the FBN1 gene. At the age of four she also lost sight in her right eye, and doctors still don’t know why. She became world-known after an interview with a local TV station that went viral titled, “The World’s Ugliest Woman.” She was only 17.
In a Facebook post, Velasquez shared she wasn’t entirely surprised to find her photo used as part of the latest TikTok prank. “I knew this was coming. When I saw this trend start I knew it was coming, Velasquez said. “I’ve seen this trend be done with people who are disabled and I’ve seen this trend be done with BABIES who have Down Syndrome. They don’t have the platform to speak on this but I do and I know I have an army of positive people right next to me.”
Velasquez is a dedicated advocate against bullying and has published multiple books discussing self-image and being kind.
“When adults are upset their kids are being bullied, this is the perfect example that teaching kindness and acceptance starts AT HOME.”
The activist said it’s up to us to make a difference.
“Just be kind to one another. We need it now more than ever!”