What the “Ugliest Woman in the World” Taught Me About Beauty


It’s Saturday. I’m still in my pajamas at three in the afternoon, fresh bread on the counter, the boys down for a nap and my suitcases finally packed for #AFRICAWH.

I’m scrolling through news feed on Facebook when I discover a TED Talk featuring “The Ugliest Woman in the World” and how she’s found happiness.

Lizzie Velasquez was born without amniotic fluid cushioning her–doctors could not believe she was alive, but she came out screaming and she didn’t know until kindergarten that there was anything different about her.

She didn’t know until she walked up to a little girl and smiled, and the girl looked as though she’d seen a monster, and that’s when Lizzie found out she had a syndrome which prevented her from ever gaining weight–and from seeing out of one eye.

When she was a teenager, Lizzie stumbled upon a video labeling her the Ugliest Woman in the World, a video which showed silent footage of her, and it had been viewed by millions, and commented on by thousands who told her to do the world a favor and put a gun to her head.

And Lizzie, she cried when she read those words, and she wanted to fight back. But instead, she decided to take those negative comments and use them as rungs on a ladder to get where she wanted to go.

She determined to fight fear with dreams. To become a motivational speaker, to write a book, to finish college, to have a career and a family–and instead of doing what the comments told her to (ending her life) she chose to defy them and truly live.

And tears were running down my face as she asked the audience, What Defines You??

Does the world’s opinion define us? Does fear define us?

DARE TO BE BRAVE, she said–this woman who jokes about having large bins of Twinkies and skittles in her room because she’s never been heavier than 64 pounds so what does it matter? This woman who said she may not be able to see out of one eye, but hey–then you only need half a prescription!

I’m in my pajamas at three in the afternoon, weeping.

I was the pastor’s kid who had head gear and braces,  large plastic glasses and bangs, decked out in Northern Reflections clothing and starving herself to death.

I didn’t eat because the world told me skinny was best. I got down to sixty pounds and the nurses said I should have died.

But I am alive.

Abundantly. Alive.

Every day we choose whether we believe what the world says about us, or what God says about us.

Every day we choose whether or not to serve fear, or Jesus. Do we step on that weigh scale for the tenth time, or do we throw the scale in the garbage and forgive ourselves for last night’s extra piece of cake?

Do we choose to look at how many followers we’ve gained or lost in social media, or do we pick up the Bible and read about who God says we are?

We’ve got one life friends.

Let’s live it full–like Lizzie.




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Making It Home


  1. Emily – I am full out crying. There will never be words to tell you what this post meant this morning. Just know that God used this post (and you) to confirm conversations & thoughts that were expressed yesterday. Truly every woman needs to read this. Blessings!!

  2. this touched me so deep. thankyou so much for posting this today.

  3. Bloom where we are planted with the gifts God has given. This is third video I’ve watched in two days about people who the world calls names, yet God calls them His. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Hallelujah – I am a princess daughter of the King of kings!

    Thanks for sharing this, miss E.

    I wonder how many of the naysayers are now inspired?


  5. what a powerful difference our focus & attitude can make-such a good reminder! thanks for sharing this amazing lady’s story with us, ember!

  6. I saw her speech a while back and was amazed at her beautiful spirit in the face of all that cruelty. I have much to learn from her.
    Bless you, Em, on your trip!

  7. Woo! Yes!
    Praying for an amazing trip for you as you are in Africa! I CANT WAIT TO READ what God does in and through you!!

  8. Isn’t she brave and beautiful? I was watching sections of her video this week too. I had never heard that mean people had said terrible things about her online. That makes me furious.

    Thanks, E, for the rest of the story.

    Jennifer Dougan

  9. Wow. This really puts things into perspective. So many thoughts right now. How much value we place on outward appearance! How many days we stand in front of the mirror, unhappy with our tiny imperfections, rather than being thankful for the fact that God gives us breath and life! I’m so glad you shared this today!

  10. Wow…Lizzie is one of my heroes…praying God continues to bless and prepare you for your trip…I am sure you will be a blessing to all :)

  11. Beautifully put.



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