By Alexis Jones
When I stepped out of the day to day of I AM THAT GIRL (totally bias, but a badass non-profit I founded with my best friend), it was because I was excited to get back to my passion for creating Media and telling stories that I truly believe can not only further the mission of IATG, but also change the world (such a millennial thing to say). It’s as if my fairy god-mother pranced by and smacked across the face with an inspirational two by four because I’m now getting to make a documentary about one of the MOST INSPIRING STORIES I HAVE EVER HEARD. Sit down, buckle your seatbelt, because it’s about to get real good.
Her name is Lizzie Valasquez. She spoke at the TEDxAustinWomen event I organized with two of my dearest friends and might I add Texas natives, Sara Bordo and Elizabeth Gore (forgive the TX pride, we simply can’t help it despite it being nauseating to everyone outside of our obnoxiously huge state). Back to Lizzie, with 9.5M+ views I’m not the only one who was inspired by her. Lizzie has a rare syndrome that only two other people in the world have which doesn’t allow her to gain weight (I know what you’re thinking, sounds awesome). She’s 25 years old and never weighted more than 64 pounds. Wowzers. As you can imagine, she was severely bullied and at 17, she found an eight second YouTube video of her posted online (with over four million views) calling her, “the world’s ugliest woman” (insert here every girls’, much less every human’s WORST NIGHTMARE). However, despite the thousands of inhumane comments posted about her online suggesting that she “should do the world a favor, put a gun to her head and kill herself,” much less the medical conditions that accompany her syndrome; she refuses to allow her life challenges or mean-spirited people to define her. I mean if it were me, I’d take a bat to every person’s face not two, but seven times and she just smile and says things like, “man, I feel bad for that guy, he must be having a bad day!” You thinking what I’m thinking, WHO IS THIS WOMAN?! How in the face of such heinous human behavior, can she be so loving, so kind, so willing to take the HIGH ROAD?
Look folks, we’re talking about the kind of magnanimity that Nelson Mandela had in order to forgive the people that threw him in jail and stole decades from his life; the kind of magnanimity that inspires us to be better and more compassionate in a not-very-compassionate world. I don’t know a single person (boy or girl, kid or adult) who hasn’t experienced mean people or bullying at some point in their lives and it’s only gotten worse with the internet which is and should be terrifying for parents. We all need a reminder (daily, if not by the minute) to be KINDER to each other and KINDER to ourselves. I believe Lizzie’s story will be a conduit for that conversation and for real change. I believe her story has the power to make the online community a more positive place and through it we get to love people back to life because this isn’t an isolated problem, it’s a global epidemic.
Knowing how much the world needs to hear this story… (drum roll please) One of my best friends (Miss Sara Bordo) and I will be producing a documentary on her life. That’s right, between Sara, Lizzie and me, that’s not one but THREE home town Austin girls! We just launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise the money necessary to do it!! We’ve raised a little over $100K and have another $80K to go. Our campaign runs through May 31st and unless we reach our mark (according to Kickstarter), we don’t get any of what was graciously donated. This is where were need YOU (whoever you are reading this right now). However you stumbled upon this, here’s your chance. It’s ingrained in our DNA to want to fight for something bigger than ourselves, it’s in the deepest recess of our mind to believe that our voice matters and for our fingerprint to be left somewhere on history. It’s easy to talk about “changing the world,” well, here ya go. I’ve delivered your chance on a silver platter. It’s not about the amount (whether you donate $5 or $5K) it’s about the fact that you live an “others-centered” life that is determined to make the world better and kinder than when you found it. Whether you’re at work, in between finals, already on summer break, on vacation or just stumbled upon some down time while taking care of the kiddos (yeah right! Haha)… JOIN US. Be a part of something great because you can.
This is a bigger than just trying to raise some money, we’re building an army of dreamers audacious enough to believe that we can ignite change that positively effects our children and their children and theirs. Help us tell a story about the indomitable strength of the human spirit, discovering your unique voice in a sea of constant distraction and being on the other side of your life’s worst storm (even when there were days you thought it had the best of you). Help us tell a story about grace, forgiveness, humor and resurrecting faith in our own humanity. It may have been technology and anonymity that allowed people to negatively impact Lizzie (and so many others), but we also believe that technology has the ability to positively and significantly impact people as well. We simply can’t afford to have another bright light be dimmed due to the big bad bullies (who by the way need just as much love if not more!) This is a HUMAN movement, inspiring us to be more compassionate to one another and I need YOU (yes the one still reading this blog) because quite frankly we are here to move mountains and mountains are very heavy and very expensive. So what the hell, take a leap of faith with us. History will recall a Kickstarter campaign, where a bunch of strangers came together from far off lands, who lent their money, but more so their hearts, to tell a story that brought light and beauty back to a dark place and the world was never again the same. So join me and the little engine that could, oh yeah and a couple other fancy faces like Hilary Duff, Kristen Bell, Jason Collins, Katie Couric, Bill and Giuliana Rancic and America Ferrera and other not so fancy faces (like the donation my fiancé made in the name of his dog- don’t ask). Point being, jump on our train, the adventure of our lives is about to unfold and I’m pretty sure we could all use a kickass adventure… so, You game? #ImWithLizzie. Are you? (TheLizzieProject.com)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKvKZp4ybaw
Alexis Jones, the author, is a speaker, activist, host, and founder of I AM THAT GIRL.
Follow her @missalexisjones
*Please note that not all experiences, beliefs, and ideas are shared by each member of "The New Hollywood." We are a group of shepherds, not sheep.