Disability activist Lizzie Velasquez has spoken against the recent TikTok FaceTime trend that is encouraging children to react negatively toward the way people look. She is pleading for the trend to be stopped in social media messages.
“TikTok I need your help,” Velasquez said, adding “This trend where you are pretending to FaceTime someone who is either disabled or is a baby or just some crazy mugshot and you’re showing it to someone to get their reaction to saying, ‘Oh hey, talk to this person’ just to get a quick laugh, this is not funny. This is not a joke.”
She goes on to explain that a mother had used her photo to prank a child into thinking that Velasquez would be his teacher for the upcoming school year. “He had a scared reaction on his face,” Velasquez said. “If you are an adult who has a young human in your life, please do not teach them that being scared of someone who does not look like them is okay. Please, everything that these kids need to know about having empathy and being kind to one another starts at home.”
The trend that became popular in late July shows parents recording a fake FaceTime with someone who they claim to be their child’s new teacher to capture the kid’s response. Velasquez tells Yahoo Life that since seeing it for the first time, she had a feeling she would become involved.
“I knew in my gut my photo was going to be used,” she says. “After dealing with things like this for a while now, I can sense when this might happen.”
The 31-year-old Texas native was born with the neonatal progeroid syndrome, a rare genetic disease that has left her victim to attacks on her looks since a photo of her — at 13 — was used in a video calling her the “the world’s ugliest woman.”
“When kids are in school or whether they are out in public, it’s crucial to teach them the importance of respecting someone who doesn’t look like them. Showing them a video might be a joke, but it can be something that shows a child if my mom or dad thinks it’s funny then it must be okay for me to laugh at as well,” she says. “I take great responsibility in the fact that now is the time to do all I can to speak up for those who might not have a voice or for those who don’t know how to use theirs.”
— Lizzie Velasquez (@littlelizziev) August 9, 2020