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Lessons from woman with rare medical condition: 'Stop Staring and Start Learning'

Published: Friday, Sept. 14 2012 9:56 a.m. MDT

Lizzie Velasquez, author of Be Yourself, Be Beautiful.

Yahoo! Shine

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Our take: From the store window displays to magazines in the grocery store checkout, women both young and old are constantly barraged by images of photoshopped and airbrushed models. Many activists such as the teens who petitioned Seventeen magazine to stop photoshopping models and the Utahn burn survivor Stephanie Nielson have promoted a focus on unique talents and inner beauty. In this article by Yahoo! Shine's editor, Lizzie Velasquez, who suffers from a rare medical condition, joins the ranks of activists helping people find their own unique beauty as she teaches people to stop staring and start learning.

When she was in high school, Lizzie Velasquez was dubbed "The World's Ugliest Woman" in an 8-second-long YouTube video. Born with a medical condition so rare that just two other people in the world are thought to have it, Velasquez has no adipose tissue and cannot create muscle, store energy, or gain weight. She has zero percent body fat and weighs just 60 pounds.

In the comments on YouTube, viewers called her "it" and "monster" and encouraged her to kill herself. Instead, Velasquez set four goals: To become a motivational speaker, to publish a book, to graduate college, and to build a family and a career for herself.

Now 23 years old, she's been a motivational speaker for seven years and has given more than 200 workshops on embracing uniqueness, dealing with bullies, and overcoming obstacles. She's a senior majoring in Communications at Texas State University in San Marcos, where she lives with her best friend. Her first book, "Lizzie Beautiful," came out in 2010 and her second, "Be Beautiful, Be You," was published earlier this month.

Read more about Lizzie Velasquez on Yahoo! Shine.

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