Anti-bullying activist Lizzie Velasquez is 2016 Arthur Curley Memorial Lecturer

For Immediate Release
Fri, 10/02/2015


Amy McGuigan

Conference Manager

Conference Services

American Library Association

CHICAGO -- Anti-bullying activist Lizzie Velasquez will bring her message of not allowing others to define you, and of turning negativity into a motivating force, to 2016 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston as the Arthur Curley lecturer from 4 - 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 9. 

Born with a rare syndrome that prevents her from gaining weight and causes accelerated aging, Velasquez was first bullied as a child in school for looking different and later as a teenager when she discovered a YouTube video labeling her “the world’s ugliest woman.” Instead of giving in to the cruelty and vitriol expressed, Velasquez decided to respond to the bullies and tormentors by fighting back in a positive way. She was inspired to speak out against both cyber- and face-to-face bullying, becoming a motivational speaker and author as well as the subject of the documentary “A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story,” which premiered at SXSW in 2015. She also got involved in lobbying Congress to pass an anti-bullying bill and presented a TEDx talk—“How do you define yourself?”—which has been viewed 9.6 million times. She credits her parents with teaching her not to allow herself to be defined by what was different about her. “You are the one that decides what defines you,” she says in the talk. She decided to let her goals, success and accomplishments define her, not her outward appearance, and has used the many negative things directed at her “as a ladder to help me climb up to my goals.” She exhorts her audience to remember that “Brave starts here.”

Velasquez’s appearance at Midwinter Meeting is sponsored by Tugg Educational Films.

The Arthur Curley Memorial Lecture series commemorates Arthur Curley’s lifelong dedication to the principles of intellectual freedom and free public access to information.

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