By Mary Kizior
How would you feel if other people labelled you as the ugliest person in the world? Too often, we judge other people by their physical appearance—the gawky teenager, the elderly man in a wheelchair, or the baby born with physical deformities—and don’t really see their life as a gift.
Lizzie Velàsquez is a Mexican-American young woman who knows firsthand that a person’s value does not depend on his appearance. Lizzie was born with an extremely rare syndrome that prevents her from gaining weight. At her birth, the doctors told her parents that she would never walk, talk, think, or be independent.
But her parents paid no attention. They took her home, loved her, and taught her that she could accomplish big dreams despite her syndrome.
Overcoming great suffering
Growing up, Lizzie was teased, bullied, and avoided by other children who didn’t understand her health issues. The bullying came to a climax when Lizzie was in high school and someone posted a video of her on YouTube labeling her the World’s Ugliest Woman.
The video got over four million views. Thousands of people wrote negative comments telling Lizzie that her life was worthless, that she wasn’t a person, and that she should “do the world a favor” by killing herself.
The video incident transformed Lizzie’s life. She realized that her beauty and value didn’t depend on what other people said about her. Lizzie could have let the Internet bullying get her down, but she chose to be happy and speak out against bullying instead. Lizzie decided that she has a very important and special calling.
As a result of her experiences, she can be the voice of people who are bullied and marginalized because of the way they look. She now travels around the country as a motivational speaker, sharing her story and teaching others that beauty comes from the inside. Her YouTube Channel has over half a million subscribers.
Lizzie is a beautiful example of someone who didn’t listen to the world’s cruel message.
The world needs people like Lizzie to show us that every human being’s life is valuable regardless of appearance or ability. Each human being is a unique and unrepeatable individual created by God to have special talents and gifts that no one else has or will ever have.
Abortion advocates tell the parents of disabled or deformed children that it would be better to abort those children than to have them grow up different from other kids. As a result, 90 percent of children diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted.
Parents of children with Down syndrome will tell you that their child is the happiest person in their family and that the child can accomplish great things, just as any other child. It’s an incredibly sad tragedy to think that so many children are killed because their families are afraid to love them and to help them fulfill the path that God has planned.
Lizzie fights back every day against bullying, and we should teach our children to do the same. Are we encouraging our children to reach out to others who look or act different—like the little girl at the playground or the boy who gets left out by the rest of the baseball team? How often do we remind them not to stare, but to smile and be friendly?
We need to show our children the way
Living the culture of life is more than just learning pro-life facts about a preborn baby’s development. If we want to live as ambassadors of the gospel of life, we have to actually step outside of our comfort zones to show others the respect and dignity they deserve as members of the human race.
Our children look to us to show them how to respect other people, so we must set a good example. There are many things you can do as a family to promote the dignity of the human person. Volunteer at a food pantry, play games with nursing home residents, or help out with a local Special Olympics.
The more you expose your children to activities that teach them the value of each individual, the more we can transform our culture into a culture that celebrates the gift of every human being’s life.
Building a culture of life starts with recognizing the inherent dignity of every human person, no matter what they look like or what kind of blessings they have received. People like Lizzie Velàsquez remind us that every human being is an incredible and beautiful gift from God and that no person should ever feel unwanted, unloved, or ugly.
Mary Kizior is a content developer for American Life League’s Culture of Life Studies Program, which stresses the culture of life as an integral part of every academic discipline. CLSP is dedicated to helping students become effective communicators of the pro-life message. Sign up for our e-mail newsletter to see how we can help you foster a culture of life at home and in school.