Kindness starts at home – and within.
Motivational speaker Lizzie Velasquez has blasted a cruel TikTok prank where a mom reportedly used her photo to trick her son into believing the woman would be his teacher for the upcoming school year while filming his reaction. Now, the disability activist is urging others to embrace empathy and stop the spiteful social media stunt for good.
“TikTok I need your help,” Velasquez began a quick clip that hit Twitter on Sunday, where it has since been viewed over 12 million times.
“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.”
The Texas woman claimed that a mom showed Velasquez’s photo to her young son, pretending that she would be his new teacher, “and he had a scared reaction on his face,” she explained.
Velasquez, 31, was born with neonatal progeroid syndrome, a rare genetic disorder characterized by accelerated aging, Yahoo Lifestyle reports.
“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,” she pled. “Please, everything that these kids need to know about having empathy and being kind to one another starts at home.”
“This is not okay, this is a trend that needs to stop, because we are human and we have feelings.”
According to the outlet, the trend gained traction on the controversial platform in late July, when parents would create a fake FaceTime call with someone they were pretending to be their child’s new teacher, in order to rouse a dramatic reaction from their kid.
Responding to Velasquez’ urgent message, fans flooded her video with words of support and thanked her for speaking out.
“When I saw this trend start I knew it was coming,” the motivational speaker further explained in a note on Twitter. “Some have been cute and funny but then it starts to cross the line. Showing your kids a photo of someone who looks different in hopes of them having a scared reaction is vile.”
“I’ve seen this trend be done with people who are disabled … and BABIES who have Down syndrome,” Velasquez continued. “They don’t have the platform to speak on this but I do and I know I have an army of positive people right next to me. I will say this over and over and over. The people you put in photos or videos are human beings!!
“When adults are upset their kids are being bullied, this is the perfect example that teaching kindness and acceptance starts AT HOME. Just be kind to one another. We need it now more than ever!”