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09/28/2015 12:08 pm ET

Why Lizzie Velasquez Is 'Thankful' For Her Online Haters

Once called the "world's ugliest woman," Velasquez says the online trolls motivate her.

Activist Lizzie Velasquez won't let the haters bring her down. 

Even after a wildly successful TEDx talk and the release of a documentary film about her life, Velasquez -- who was once called the "world's ugliest woman" by an online commenter -- told HuffPost Live on Sept. 24 that she still receives hateful messages "every day." While the disparaging remarks used to bother Velasquez, now they only motivate her to spread her message far and wide.

"I get them on a regular basis, and I'm in a way thankful for them. It sounds so crazy, I know. ... [They push me] to continue showing my message, and hopefully that message will reach that person or anyone else," she said.

Velasquez, who has a rare condition that prevents her from gaining weight and causes accelerated aging, said that most online haters don't actually mean the rude things they say.

"I think they're doing it for attention and just wanting to be acknowledged. And unfortunately, as soon as they get that acknowledgement or the one reply back, they change their tune really quickly," she said

While Velasquez has fielded comments from online bullies, she said she refuses to stoop to their level. Instead of calling them out by name and shaming them online, Velasquez opts for another approach.

"People bully other people because they're coming from a place of hurt themselves. … Even though I was on the other side of it -- I was the one who was being treated not so nicely -- I don't know what's going on in the other person's life. And because of that, I wouldn't want to call them out in a negative light because that could just hurt them even more. And I would rather protect them and offer a way to help them to find another channel to express their pain," she said.

Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation with activist Lizzie Velasquez here.

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