Lizzie Velasquez: The Bravest Heart

September 30 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: The Word of the Day: Plucky

I love those word-a-day calendars, but rarely end up using the word. I mean, how can you casually throw the word “hugger-mugger” into everyday conversation? But today, I’m going to give you a great word to mull over: “plucky.” Not only is it fun to say, but when describing someone as plucky, it means they show determined courage in the face of difficulties—an admirable achievement. Today, I dare you to be the pluckiest chick you can be.


Remember those days when you could leave a message on someone’s answering machine, but you’d fumbled mid-sentence and were filled with instant horror at what the recipient would think? I still experience some of that apprehension when posting on social media. It turns, out I’m not alone.

Innovative software product ReThink helps kids—some of the most prolific users of social media—pause and give thought before posting messages that may be considered cyberbullying. And according to the organization, when kids and teens are alerted by ReThink to reconsider a potentially offensive post, 93 percent of adolescents change their minds about making that derogatory post.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Lizzie Velasquez, Motivational Speaker and Author

Some women are inspiring. Then there are those women who give you the strength to keep pushing through your toughest times. Lizzie Velasquez is definitely one of those women.

After being relentlessly bullied and cyberbullied, Lizzie made it her life’s mission to stop the hate, not just for herself, but for every person who’s ever been the object of such detestable behavior.

Lizzie has neonatal progeroid syndrome, a combination of Marfan syndrome and lipodystrophy. Since the age of 4, she has been blind in her right eye and has limited vision in the other. But it’s Lizzie’s internal vision that makes her such a special individual.

Despite her lifelong physical ailments, Lizzie has an infectiously delightful and generous nature. In 2013, Lizzie gave a TEDxWomen talk that became the most viewed in TEDxWomen history, having accrued more than 10 million views. She offers a rousing discussion about throwing away the labels other people want to place on you, and instead, fashioning your own labels, ones that give you joy.

Lizzie approaches life with resilience and fortitude. And that’s really saying something considering she’s had far more undeserved animosity thrust upon her by others than many of us ever will. When Lizzie was 17, she discovered a popular video on YouTube labeling her “The Ugliest Woman in the World.” As if that weren’t cruel enough, thousands of spiteful comments flooded the page. It was enough to force anyone into a life of seclusion and mistrust.

But Lizzie survived. Not only that, she built a brave suit of armor that helped protect her from bullying and became an in-demand and outspoken voice for those who are bullied the world over. Lizzie’s strength doesn’t just come from inside; it also comes from supportive, loving friends, family and mentors. One was her vice principal, who, a year after the bullying video was published, asked Lizzie to tell her story to a group of 400 9th graders. The speech was an incredibly powerful and personal discourse, and an eye-opener for her fellow students. The empowering experience enabled Lizzie’s confidence to bloom, and it catapulted her into becoming one of the most compelling motivational speakers of our time.

In 2015, a documentary about her life, called A Brave Heart, premiered at South By Southwest just a day after Lizzie’s 26th birthday. It’s a must-see film that takes the viewer on a journey of the fulfilling life Lizzie has created for herself—one of fighting for herself and fighting for others.


Lizzie Velasquez demonstrates that we all have that special something within us that can help us beat the odds or endure a difficult time. All we need is a little bravery. As renowned novelist Ernest Hemingway said:

“Courage is grace under pressure.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice.

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