Book Review: Dare to Be Kind

Spirituality & Health Magazine
reviewed by Jennifer Haupt

Dare to Be Kind

By Lizzie Velasquez

Hachette Books

If there was ever a time to encourage more kindness, it is now. Dare to Be Kind: How Extraordinary Compassion Can Transform Our World, by 28-year-old motivational speaker Lizzie Velasquez, isn’t so much a self-help book as a mandate for creating a “culture of kindness.”

Bullied-teen-turned-YouTube-star, Velasquez was born with a rare congenital disease that, among other things, prevents her from accumulating body fat. In this book, she draws on a lifetime of personal experiences being told she was ugly. When she was 17 years old, she came across an online video of “The World’s Ugliest Woman” with thousands of hits, only to discover that it featured her. With a lot of support from her parents, Velasquez created a TED talk to speak up for victims of bullying and encourage kindness. Reading this upbeat book, it’s easy to see why Velasquez’s YouTube channel has drawn more than a half million subscribers.

This powerful, beautiful young woman attributes her success to building resilience. She also admits this is a constant struggle—which is refreshing to hear. Her point is that everyone struggles and everyone needs compassion. It’s a universal need. She writes: “I consider it not just my work but also my purpose to speak out and reach as many people as I can with my message that we must be kind to each other, no matter what. We are all the same.”

Dare to Be Kind is filled with gems of guidance for parents, whether you’re trying to protect your children from bullying or raise kids who value compassion. The advice isn’t anything new—monitor your children on social media and encourage individuality—but some things bear repeating. As Velasquez writes, “Kindness starts in the home.” This book is also a hopeful “hang in there” rallying cry for any child going through the hell of being bullied or just trying to figure out where they fit into the world.

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