The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Dare to be kind

Photo by Photo by Hanna Hausman

Lizzie Velasquez aims to fight against trials and to flourish a culture of kindness in her new book Dare to be Kind.

Motivational speaker and YouTube personality Lizzie Velasquez shared how she turned her experiences of being bullied and threatened online into a lifelong commitment to kindness — a commitment she encouraged attendees to share with her going forward.
Velasquez spoke in Rudder Auditorium as part of the Delta Gamma sorority’s semi-annual lectureship on values and ethics on Wednesday night. Velasquez has an extremely rare congenital disease that prevents her from gaining weight called Marfanoid–progeroid–lipodystrophy syndrome.
When she was 17 years old, Velasquez came across a YouTube video titled “World’s Ugliest Woman,” which included footage of herself. After reading the disparaging comments and receiving threatening messages online, Velasquez began publicly speaking out against bullying and in 2014 gave a TED Talk that immediately went viral. Since then, Velasquez has become an influential online role model, with her YouTube videos reaching over 54 million views overall.
Velasquez reflected on her struggles with self image and depression, as well as her strategies to cope with these issues. She also used her time on stage to share stories of kindness and dared the audience to be kind themselves.
By sharing her story and spreading hope, Velasquez said she is fulfilling her life’s purpose.
“I look at my platform and think that it’s one of the biggest responsibilities of my life,” Velasquez said. “I’m not going to sit and home and waste it. My job now is to be able to be the voice for those who don’t know how to use their voice or aren’t able to use their voice. I cannot express to you how good that feels. It’s such an incredible feeling .”
Velasquez said spreading kindness is crucial in today’s world, where hatred hides behind a computer screen and that even small acts can change someone’s day.
“No matter where you look on the news, there’s always something sad and negative,” Velasquez said. “I feel such a sense of helplessness because I want to do more, but don’t know what to do. When we get that feeling, we should remember that if we help at least one person a day and make a commitment to do that, we will make a huge difference. Whether it’s holding the door for someone or simply saying hi, it will truly be impactful. I highly encourage that.”
Recounting her battle with depression, Velasquez said she understands what many audience members are experiencing and that she wants those who are struggling to continue staying strong each day.
“If you are in your darkest times right now and you are trying to figure out how to let the light in again, don’t worry,” Velasquez said. “The sun is there and it’s waiting for you. Once those beams hit you, it is going to feel unlike anything else you’ve felt before.”
Claire Smith, Delta Gamma’s Director of Lectureship, said Velasquez inspires her to live a better life and help others. Smith said she has learned a lot about herself by watching Lizzie’s YouTube videos.
“You should not lash out against mean people because they could be having it worse than you realize,” Smith said. “It’s such an amazing thing for Lizzie, who has endured so much, to recognize the fact that she needs to love these people. The people that are being so cruel to her deserve her compassion and love. The way she responds to these situations is so admirable.”
Velasquez’s message of self-love was powerful and really important to the students in the audience, according to Shanice Pagan, biomedical sciences freshman.
“We’re all struggling under pressure and stress,” Pagan said. “On top of that, we live in a society that puts looks and self-image above anything else. There are times where we feel insecure or not good enough, so to hear Lizzie tells us to hang on and keep fighting is really inspiring. She taught me to always focus on what I love about myself, rather than thinking about my insecurities.”
While the power of being kind was discussed consistently throughout the lecture, Velasquez said it’s not always a simple task. Still, even though it can be difficult, she said she wanted to encourage the audience to strive for kindness in their everyday lives.
“You might think being kind to one another is easy, but it’s always the hardest thing to do if someone is being mean to you,” Velasquez said. “In that situation, you automatically want to be mean back. But I dare you to be kind. Pause and look at the bigger picture.”

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