As a kid I noticed how much attention people paid to size.
Girls in my 4rd grade class wouldn't finish their meals because they were afraid the boys would judge how much they ate. I thought they were being ridiculous until I saw some boys standing near where we would empty our trays, commenting on how much everyone ate.
I remember being around 12, laying awake in bed late one night listening to my parents talk. My mom said "Don't you think Lena is fat?". Dad said "No, she's just big boned". Mom said "I think she is too fat".
Within the next year my mom would come stand next to my bed each night and repeat over and over in the meanest, most sibilant voice I have ever heard "You are fat. You are ugly. You are stupid. You are fat. You are ugly. You are stupid." She would do this for hours. Eventually all that evil programing worked its way into my head and I have spent a great deal of time trying to get rid of it with pretty good success. But still, when I make a mistake or am feeling down that voice pops up on a loop mocking me until I consciously make it stop.
I remember getting harassed in grade school through high school. I was mocked and teased and harassed for a variety of issues, but mostly about my weight. In hindsight I know this was mostly because I carried myself like a victim (slumped shoulders, non-confrontational, quickly moved out of the way of others, didn't make eye contact, did not have or move with confidence) rather than because of physical appearance.
All throughout this time I wasn't even very large. I was a size 12 and was athletic and muscular, though I carried some extra weight. I lifted weights regularly in an after school program and went on walks when my parents would allow me to (they were overly controlling and exerted dominance over every aspect of my life).
I gained happiness and confidence once I left for college. For years I was happy and did well. Eventually I became involved in a relationship that took a serious toll on my feelings of self-worth. I started gaining weight, feeling worse about myself, then eating to feel better and gaining more weight. At my highest point I reached 289 lbs, which weighed heavily on my 5'6" frame.
Within the last year I started to disengage emotionally from that relationship and began to focus on myself and what made me feel good. I eat well, I exercise regularly, I get out and do the things I enjoy even if it means doing them by myself.
I have lost 121 lbs from my high weight, 75 of those lost within the last 8 months.
I have always thought is that it is important to love ourselves and be kind to ourselves no matter what size we are. The outside is just a package that carries us. We can change that package if we want. A lot of times we are our own harshest critic and see flaws in ourselves that no one else would notice or see.
I am all for self-improvement, but I think we sometimes forget to exert self-love, too.