Lizzie Velasquez is reminding people of the power of social media after a Philadelphia-based news anchor called a photo of the motivational speaker and author “scary.”
In a screenshot posted to her Instagram on Monday, Velasquez shared the hurtful message sent by WTXF anchor Jason Martinez when he responded to a selfie of hers. “God. That’s scary,” he wrote about the woman who has long been bullied for her looks as a result of a rare congenital disease. Velasquez reposted it in an effort to encourage more kindness.
“I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say you didn’t mean to say this directly to me,” Velasquez wrote in her caption address to Martinez. “Since October is national anti bullying awareness month, let’s take this as a learning moment and remember even ‘joking’ like this to a friend can always end up hurting someone else.”
Velasquez’s comment section quickly filled up with positive sentiments from friends and followers who assured her that she is “beautiful, amazing, and a wonderful example to us.” Others shared their upset about Martinez’s remark.
“This is disrespectful & just rude. I’m so sorry about people like this in the world,” one person wrote. Another said, “Good for you for calling him out!”
Velasquez clarified in a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle that her intention in bringing attention to the message was so that it could be used as a lesson for both kids and adults on social media.
“Whether you have a blue check mark next to your name or a private account with a few followers, your keyboard has power. There will always be someone on the other end of the screen and those few words, accidental or not, can really hurt someone,” she said. “My parents raised me to believe in the power and importance of forgiveness. I’ve forgiven the person who posted the ‘Worlds Ugliest Woman’ video of me and I will forgive Mr. Martinez exactly the same.”
Martinez didn’t immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment. However, he did post an apology to his social media accounts.
“That DM was NOT an attempt to bully her. It was a mistake,” Martinez wrote of his message. “Accidental or not, it was a horrible thing to say and I promise to be better.”
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