Lizzie Velasquez takes on online bullies over cruel meme

Lizzie Velasquez has been speaking up against online bullying since she was a teenager (Getty)
Lizzie Velasquez has been speaking up against online bullying since she was a teenager (Getty)

In the early hours of Sunday morning, US woman Lizzie Velasquez took on the online bullies who'd used her image without consent in a cruel meme.

"Yes, it's very late at night as I type this," she wrote. "I do so as a reminder that the innocent people 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."

The meme used a photo of Ms Velasquez standing by a tree with the caption: "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 27-year-old from Austin, Texas suffers from an extremely rare congenital disease that stops her from gaining weight, among other things.

She has never weighed more than 29 kilograms, and is visually impaired.

"No matter what we look like or what size we are, at the end of the day we are all human," she wrote in her post. "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."

So far, the post has been shared more than 52,000 times and Ms Velasquez said she's been overwhelmed with positive messages of support.

"As Lizzie's mom this hurts beyond words," wrote Rita Velasquez on the post. "But I stand with you to say spread love PLEASE. Love you Lizzie!"

"My heart is angry and hurt for behaviour like this. You are amazing and I love your courage! Be strong in moments of ignorance from those around us… I know that you are way better than social media garbage such as this," wrote Omar Antonio Espinoza.

Michael Mendieta referenced the use of his first name in the meme by writing: "Lizzie Velasquez, whenever you're back home in Austin, you just tell me which tree to meet you at and I'll be there my friend. Big hugs!"

Ms Velasquez thanked her supporters in a video message, saying how much she appreciated their positivity.

"Today has been awesome. I cannot tell you how loved I feel. It's been so incredible to read all of your comments and it just means the world to me," she said.

"Thank you for joining me in standing up for everyone else. I am not sad, I am not hurt, I am happy knowing that we are joining in taking a stand together."

"So just think before you tweet, think before you share, think before you like, because we just want to be accepted. And that's it… So just be kind to one another, especially online."

Ms Velasquez has spoken out against bullying since being named the 'world's ugliest woman' in a 2008 YouTube video, when she was 17.

She became well-known after her 2014 TEDxAustinWomen talk 'How do YOU define yourself?'.

Ms Velasquez has also written several books, including her 2010 autobiography Lizzie Beautiful: The Lizzie Velasquez Story. She has another book coming out next year, called Dare To Be Kind: How Extraordinary Compassion Can Transform Our World.

She was also the subject of a documentary film called A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story.