There are thousands, or probably millions, of them floating around the internet and most people find them very funny. We’re talking here about memes, those photos of strangers with some funny text added to them. They seem like harmless jokes, but what few of us stop to think about is who the person in the photograph is and how they might feel about this humor at thier expense. Chances are, they’re not laughing.
This is precisely what happened to Lizzie Velasquez, a 27-year-old who was born with a rare disease that keeps her from accumulating fat in her body. In addition she suffers from Marfan syndrome, which causes her limbs to be unusually long. But these conditions have not kept her from achieving her goals: Lizzie is a great author and motivational speaker, and she travels around the country touching the whole world with her words.
But a few days ago she was met with an unpleasant surprise: a meme had gone viral on Facebook… with a photo of her! The included text read: “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?”
When she saw her photo all over the internet without her permission — and thousands of people laughing cruelly at her appearance — she decided not to remain silent and posted the meme on her Instagram page where she has 639,000 followers. And this is what she wrote…
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 that 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 message reached the hearts of all her followers and thousands of people have not hesitated to share it on their own Facebook and Instagram pages. Ironically, the sincere response to the viral meme has also gone viral and the support of her followers was so strong that they actually persuaded Facebook to close a memes page.
It seems that nothing this strong and brave woman does goes unnoticed. The more people laugh at her, the brighter her smile becomes. In one of her latest Instagram posts, Lizzie published a video in which she thanks everyone for their support, and also sends an important message: “Think before you share, think before you like.” Many people are not aware of the harm they’re doing when sharing these kinds of posts — Lizzie simply wants us to pay more attention to the feelings of others.
Here is the video with her message:
Lizzie’s courage and determination are truly admirable. When it seemed that the world was against her, she stood up and raised her voice without fear. And thanks to that, her message of love and empathy has reached thousands of people. So the next time you see a post that ridicules another person, think for a second before you share it. Because as Lizzie can tell us firsthand, hurting other people’s feelings is no way to have fun.