Many high-profile celebrities from Lady Gaga to Ellen DeGeneres to Demi Lovato to Lisa Vanderpump have joined national anti-bullying efforts and ET's Brooke Anderson spoke to a young woman who's dealt with the problem her entire life due to a debilitating disease that makes it virtually impossible for her to keep weight on.
Lizzie Velasquez, 23, was diagnosed at an early age with an extremely rare disease that strips tissue away from her body, leaving her bone thin and blind in one eye. "It is hard when I go out in public and I automatically think people are
judging me or wondering what eating disorder I have, or wondering why I
don't eat," Lizzie said.
"When I was born, the doctors had no clue what was wrong with me," she continued. "They basically told my parents to expect me to accomplish absolutely nothing in my life. They told them that I would never walk, talk or crawl, or be able to feed myself."
But Lizzie -- who is now a motivational speaker and author -- has defied the odds her entire life and today lives a very full life despite persistent ridiculing in public and bullying since childhood. "The way I handle it is just kind of smiling back at them and showing them that I see them looking at me" she explained. "There were days that I felt bad and didn't want to put myself out there -- but not anymore, I'm proud to be who I am now."
Also impressed with her remarkable story were the creators of the anti-bullying organization The Friend Movement
-- Elliot Dal Pra London and Ronnie Kroell -- who have produced a documentary by the same name that features Lizzie. "We reached out to Lizzie and she reached back. And she took a leap of
faith and came out to Los Angeles and she's a spitfire," London said.
He added that she's been "an
incredible advocate" of the organization's New F-word campaign, which aims to show positive anti-bully images through art and media. Other celebrities who've thrown their support behind the campaign include LeAnn Rimes, Adam Lambert and Richard Simmons.
To read more about Lizzie's inspiring story, visit her website AboutLizzie.com