Activist Lizzie Velasquez bravely tackles hurtful memes in heartfelt Instagram post


Lizzie Velasquez is no stranger to appearance-based hate — or fighting back.

The latest example of the 27-year-old activist’s bold work comes in the form of a heartfelt Instagram post this week, calling out the harms of meme culture.

Velasquez bravely posted a meme of herself that, in its subtext, suggested she is undesirable because of how she looks.

Memes often target people with disabilities, plus-size women, and people with physical differences for laughs and shares. Through a short but powerful caption, Velasquez tackles what these memes can do to someone, challenging the public to think of the person featured in the meme before resharing.

Speaking to broader meme culture, Velasquez wrote: "No matter what we look like or what size we are, at the end of the day we are all human. I ask that you keep that in mind the next time you see a viral meme of a random stranger. At the time, you might find it hilarious — but the human in the photo is probably feeling the exact opposite."

"I’m writing this post not as someone who is a victim, but as someone who is using their voice."

This is just the latest instance of activism from Velasquez, who has built her career as a motivational speaker and author by fighting back against those who shame her.

Velasquez — who lives with neonatal progeroid syndrome and other undiagnosed, non-terminal rare conditions — was first inspired to speak out about her experience after she stumbled upon a YouTube video in 2006 calling her "The World’s Ugliest Woman."

It was her first experience with the cruelties of internet culture — and the online hate hasn’t slowed 10 years later.

Velasquez wrote on Instagram that she was inspired to speak out this week to stand up for those targeted by such memes — something she wouldn’t wish on her worst enemy.

"I’m writing this post not as someone who is a victim, but as someone who is using their voice," she wrote.

Velasquez concluded her post with a strong statement to all internet users: "Spread love — not hurtful words via a screen."

Mashable has reached out to Velasquez for comment, and will update this post when we hear back.