Anti-bullying activist Lizzie Velasquez has begged parents to stop insensitive TikTok prank in which they are showing their children pictures of her face to scare them, stressing that ‘being kind to one another starts at home.’
The 31-year-old from Austin, Texas, who was cruelly branded the ‘world’s ugliest woman’ when she was just a teenager, condemned the new TikTok trend that has turned her and others who look different into the butt of cruel jokes.
‘TikTok I need your help,’ Velasquez began. ‘This trend where you are pretending to FaceTime someone who is disabled or is a baby or there’s some crazy mugshot and you’re showing it to someone to get their reaction and say, “Oh hey, talk to this person,” just to get a quick laugh — this is not a joke.’
Insensitive: Anti-bullying activist Lizzie Velasquez has condemned the TikTok trend in which parents are showing their children pictures of people who don’t look like them to scare them
Hurtful: The 31-year-old from Austin, Texas, revealed that her face has been used in the pranks while stressing that ‘being kind to one another starts at home’
The motivational speaker was born with Marfanoid–progeroid–lipodystrophy syndrome, an extremely rare congenital condition that stops her from gaining body fat, among other symptoms.
Plea: ‘Please do not teach them that being scared of someone who doesn’t look like them is okay,’ Velasquez said
Velasquez explained that in one of the videos, a mother showed her young son her photo and said it was his teacher for the new school year to scare him.
‘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 okay,’ she said.
‘Please. Everything that these kids need to know about having empathy and being kind to one another starts at home.
‘This is not okay,’ she added. ‘This is a trend that needs to stop because we are human and we have feelings, so just please keep that in mind.’
Velasquez’s video has been viewed more than 10 million times across her social media platforms and received thousands of supportive comments.
‘Thank you for speaking up!! This behavior is so normalized in society and we must change that and teach everyone to be empathetic,’ one TikTok user wrote.
‘I already shared this! I’m so sorry I did this with my daughter too. I deleted it right away,’ another commented. ‘I feel bad and will spread the word.’
Using her voice: Velasquez’s video has been viewed more than 10 million times across her social media platforms and received thousands of supportive comments
‘I knew this was wrong but just brushed it off because everyone was laughing,’ someone else admitted. ‘But now I know where I stand and stand with you!’
In addition to her TikTok plea, she also posted one of the videos in which a mom used a picture of her face to frighten her young son.
‘I knew this was coming. When I saw this trend start I knew it was coming,’ she wrote on Instagram. ‘Some have been cute and funny but then it starts to cross the line. Showing your kids a photo of someone who looks different in hopes of them having a scared reaction is vile.
‘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,’ she continued.
Diagnosis: Velasquez was born with Marfanoid–progeroid–lipodystrophy syndrome, an extremely rare congenital condition that stops her from gaining body fat
‘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. I will say this over and over and over. The people you put in photos or videos are human beings!!
‘We have feelings and we have something we work on every day called self-confidence. Please PLEASE don’t teach your children that it’s funny to be afraid of someone who doesn’t look like them,’ she added.
‘When adults are upset their kids are being bullied, this is the perfect example that teaching kindness and acceptance starts AT HOME. Just be kind to one another. We need it now more than ever!!’
Velasquez has battled bullying her entire life, and when she was 17 years old, she came across a video of herself on YouTube that described her as being the ‘world’s ugliest woman.’
Hitting back: In 2014, she used her platform to condemn online bullies after her face was used in a hurtful internet meme
Changing the world: Velasquez’s experiences with bullying have led her to become an anti-bullying activist and a motivational speaker
Her experiences led her to become an anti-bullying activist and a motivational speaker. She has more than 860,000 YouTuber subscribers and hundreds of thousands of followers across her social media pages.
In 2014, she used her platform to condemn online bullies after her face was used in a hurtful internet meme that cast her as a woman waiting for a date that would never show up.
‘It’s very late as a type this but I do so as a reminder that the innocent people that are being put in these memes are probably up just as late scrolling through Facebook and feeling something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy,’ she wrote.
‘No matter what we look like or what size we are, at the end of the day we are all human. I ask you to keep that in mind the next time you see a viral meme of a random stranger.’