The internet can be an awful place, full of bullying and viral abuse. Social media has its downfalls, but this time, some social sites decided to rally behind a woman who was bullied on the internet for her body morphing disease.
Lizzie Velasquez, now a TED and motivational speaker, has been the victim of countless posts which mock her face and appearance. The speaker was born with a rare, inherited condition called Marfan syndrome, which doesn’t allow her body to save fat. The condition is visible because of the lack of fat underneath her skin which gives her face a disfigured appearance. The syndrome can also affect the look of someone’s entire body, which is why Velasquez appears to be so skinny.
The meme on the internet which went viral featured a picture of Velasquez that stated, “Michael said he would meet me behind this tree for a bit of fun, he’s running late would someone please tag him and tell him i’m still waiting?”. The joke behind the meme is was for people to tag a friend named Michael, insinuating that “Michael” was intimate with this woman, and making fun of both of them for how unattractive she was. The meme was shared thousands of times, but the internet community finally decided the joke was up.
The speaker went on to post the meme herself on her Instagram with the following statement: “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 who 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.”
Her quote and her inspiring post have now been shared by thousands of people on both Instagram and Facebook. Social media is beginning to back the victim, trying to prove people should not be the butt or the punchline of anyone’s foolish jokes. The page and websites which were also responsible for the original degrading meme have been shut down and suspended by Facebook for harassment after thousands of people made complaints.
Velasquez and people who are affected by body disorders should not fear for their safety on the internet, whether it is their physical or mental safety. These memes are not funny, but they are cruel and degrading. As Lizzie puts perfectly, “Spread love not hurtful words via a screen.” Her upbeat attitude and positivity prove that the internet can be a wonderful place.