Health

Lizzie Velasquez's New Show Aims to Help Others Overcome Body Image Issues

January 12th 2017

By:
Laura Donovan

Lizzie Velasquez still sees herself as a girl from Texas. But over the past few years, the 27-year-old's story of standing up to relentless bullying for a rare condition that prevents her from gaining weight has turned her into a household name. Now, three years after delivering a viral TEDTalk that touched on being born with neonatal progeroid syndrome, Velasquez is getting her own show with Fullscreen, an app behind series such as Bret Easton Ellis’ "The Deleted" and "Not Too Deep with Grace Helbig."

Lizzie Velasquez

After having shared her personal experiences at length on social media over the past few years, Velasquez now wants to tell the stories of other people.

Velasquez, who has opened up in various interviews about the devastating experience of being called the "ugliest woman in the world" by online trolls, will explore topics beyond harassment and broach the issue of body image for her new series, she told ATTN: in an exclusive interview. The "Untitled Lizzie Velasquez Project," which Fullscreen said is a working title, is set to air sometime in early 2017 and will include guest appearances from people who have body confidence and body image issues. 

She recently spoke to ATTN: and opened up about her upcoming series, confronting bullies and calling out the viral meme that mocked her appearance and body.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

ATTN: Can you tell us a little bit about the new project?

Lizzie Velasquez: I always wanted to [tackle] bullying and things like that but, of course, we deal with so many more issues besides bullying and I think it's time to reach out to those new things. I have gained such an incredible platform that I really want to do what I can to further help other people. I feel like they have been with me since my college days and through the craziness of my TED Talk, my documentary and, now, I want to do something that's going to personally help some of them.

I had to learn a lot of tricks to get to the point where I can say, 'Now, I can confidently wear a bathing suit out in public and feel happy,' so I want to be able to share with someone who might not have that confidence yet and say, 'Here's what worked for me, maybe this will work for you.' It can be how to be confident going into an interview, how to feel confident at a party or a social gathering. Whatever situation you might need that little boost of encouragement, I want to be able to dig deeper and help you love yourself inside out and eventually you'll be able to walk into any room with your head held high no matter what you're wearing and you're going to feel so confident knowing you are enough.

ATTN: What has it been like to know that you have helped others who've experienced bullying?

LV: It's been without a doubt a very, very humbling experience. I still honestly see myself as a girl from Texas who has a high school dream of wanting to help other people and never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be to the point where it is today, to the point where my story has gone around the world. I hear stories from people who I might not meet in person who say, 'I now believe in myself,' or 'I now feel confident in myself,' to be able to witness that ... has really changed my life in ways that I don't think I'll ever be able to put into words.

ATTN: Has anyone ever reached out to you to say, "Hey, I've bullied others before but after hearing your story, I decided that was wrong"?

LV: I definitely have. Some people who I have no clue who they are, they'll see my story and reach out and say, 'I just want to apologize. I thought mean things about you before I heard your story,' and I'm always very appreciative of that but at the same time I want to make sure they know I don't like them to apologize to me just because you know my story. I would rather you just not be [mean] to anyone, in general. But I think the most surprising thing that happened most recently was I saw a [mean-spirited] meme going around in December and I posted something about it and it went viral within a few hours. To see the amount of people who were coming forward and sort of apologizing for sharing the meme of me as well as other people, to see how they were taking a stand as well and trying to get those taken down, it was incredible. 

Velasquez's story of overcoming bullying has captured the interest of many, and it's likely she'll gain more fans who will surely appreciate the positive focus of her new show.