Arthur Curley Memorial LectureSaturday, January 9, 2016 -
Anti-bullying activist Lizzie Velasquez will bring to Midwinter her message of not allowing others to define you, and of turning negativity into a motivating force.
Born with a rare syndrome that prevents her from gaining weight, Velasquez was first bullied as a child in school for looking different and later as a teenager when she discovered a YouTube video labeling her “the world’s ugliest woman.” Instead of giving in to the cruelty and vitriol, Velasquez decided to respond to the bullies and tormentors by speaking out against both cyber- and face-to-face bullying, becoming a motivational speaker and author as well as the subject of the award-winning 2015 documentary “A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story.” She also got involved in lobbying Congress to pass an anti-bullying bill, and presented a TEDx talk—“How do you define yourself?”—which has been viewed 9.6 million times. She credits her parents with teaching her not to allow herself to be defined by what was different about her. “You are the one that decides what defines you,” she says in the talk. She decided to let her goals, success, and accomplishments define her, not her outward appearance, and has used the many negative things directed at her “as a ladder to help me climb up to my goals.” Her highly anticipated inspirational memoir will be released in the Spring of 2017 by Hachette Books.
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