A meme began making the rounds this past week online. It was one of the crueler ones that I've seen.
The meme seemed cruel when it made it past my feed. I didn't learn the importance of it, or why it had been shared, until much later. The woman being attacked in the meme is anti-bullying advocate Lizzie Velasquez. And she let this meme go viral on purpose. Lizzie shared the meme on her Instagram, where it quickly went viral. In the post, she wrote:
I've seen a ton of memes like this all over @facebook recently. I'm writing this post not as someone who is a victim but as someone who is using their voice. Yes, it's very late at night as I type this but I do so as a reminder that the innocent people that are being put in these memes are probably up just as late scrolling through Facebook and feeling something that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. 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. Spread love not hurtful words via a screen. Xoxo Lizzie
Lizzie suffers from a rare genetic condition called neonatal progeroid syndrome, which prevents her from gaining weight and has a visible effect on her physical appearance. Lizzie has been attacked in numerous memes and videos throughout her life, even being referred to by strangers as "the ugliest woman on earth." She has taken the attention she's received and instead turned it towards activism, going as far as to lead an inspiring and popular TED Talk about her harassment in 2014.