13 July 2015
Instead of driving a wedge between one group and another, hardships should be the denominator that unites society and bridges all divides.
This is the life philosophy for author and motivational speaker Lizzie Velasquez, whose inspirational journey has led her to Malaysian shores to share her wisdom recently.
"I think one of the biggest things, in all of the places I have been to, is that in every place the people have one thing in common.
"We all have gone through some hardships at some point in our lives, and meeting so many different people and cultures and different ages; all of us connect in one way or another on the things we have gone through," the 26-year-old told the local press in conjunction with the National Achievers Congress 2015 here.
Velasquez was born with a rare condition that does not allow her body to accumulate fat. She has zero per cent body fat and has never weighed beyond 29kg.
She became the victim of cyberbullying in her younger days, after a YouTube video depicted her as "the worlds ugliest woman".
Despite the negative label, she is now a global inspiration and a fierce advocate against bullying.
She said she hoped to share her philosophy in life with the Malaysian audience, although she may not be familiar with the country.
"Even though we come from different places, we all have the possibility or the chance to do whatever we set our mind to, but there is always a struggle.
"And at the end of the day, that struggle will make you an even better person than you can imagine," she said.
Velasquez also spoke about her documentary The Brave Heart, that debuted last March and how she had faced difficulties during her younger days.
"It's my face on the big screen, but it is about everyone else's story.
"I hope when people see it, they can relate to it, that there is a light at the end of tunnel. When I was younger, I didn't see that light," she said.
Being in a foreign land, thousands of kilometres away from her home in Austin, Texas, Velasquez said Malaysia had been a wonderful experience for her.
She promised to try some of the local dishes, although she admitted that she was a picky eater.
"But I told myself that I am trying to try new things while I am here," she laughed.
Velasquez is in town for four days since Friday and is accompanied by her parents, Rita Velasquez and Guadalupe Velasquez, and The Brave Heart director Sara Hirsh Bordo.
See more images of Lizzie Velasquez in the gallery below.