Hey, my name is Anna and for years, I have been ridiculed and shamed about my weight from my family but I am here today writing for the sole purpose to help other kids like me who could never really love themselves because all they could see is what their parents saw and what they think is the best for them.

Ever since I was young I remember being the heavier kid in my class, however, I didn't let that stop me from playing sports, laughing, and enjoying what life handed to me. However, as I got older it became a great alarm to my family that I was going to become unhealthy due to my "lazy lifestyle" and my "food choices." It wouldn't be a year without one or two "you need to lose weight and take your health seriously" talks with my parents; but what I was confused about was how playing sports, dancing, and somewhat eating healthy for a growing kid still made me fat. What could I do more? Why are the other kids skinny and I'm not even though we are doing the same things?

I couldn't fathom how kids could be so skinny while eating chips and cookies. What was wrong with me?

Then in middle school, it only got worse. Get this, in order to get an iPhone I had to sign a contract saying that I would maintain a healthy lifestyle and lose 15 pounds as well as other actions that needed to be taken seriously. Were my parents that embarrassed of my appearance? My doctor claimed I was healthy and bloodwork came back perfect, but I was overweight. Every time she asked me what I ate I told her and she always commented on how I always have a healthy balanced diet but I would eat too much of it. Now throw in a bunch of changing body hormones and BAM! A recipe for disaster.

I woke up every day hating the way I looked because I could see the disappointment in my parents' eyes when I got seconds for dinner or asked for dessert. Even when I wasn't home they always made sure to remind me. This one time at summer camp all the girls were reading their letters from their parents and when I opened mine I could hear a group of girls in the back talking about how my parents wrote "make smart choices" and "remember portion control." No matter what I had a voice in the back of my head always reminding me. I felt disgusting, but I didn't want to cave in and "be healthy" for my parents so they could feel this accomplishment of finally changing me for "my health" and for their own good.

High school rolled around and you can imagine that it only got worse, freshman year I was put into a program at my local hospital to decrease childhood obesity. Well, it lasted three months and I hated every minute of it. I was being averaged in with other kids; other strangers who helped to create a graph for national averages that made me think I was worthless. Then I had enough. I have come to the realization that no graph or my parents could tell me what I can and cannot eat, or wear. With this new found courage I faced my fears and my parents day by day and started doing things they told me was not allowed until I lost weight.

I can still remember the day I came downstairs to show my mom my high waisted bikini, she, of course, hated it because I was "not allowed to wear a bikini until I lost weight." I'm sorry I would love to see a handbook for fat people where it says that. Finally, barrier after barrier, my confidence immediately shined through my smile when I finally could see myself as beautiful because I didn't need a man or my parents to accept me because I accepted myself.

Going into college I have never felt more confident and beautiful in my entire life. I have learned to love my size and my figure, and I couldn't be more excited about this newly found self-love. I am surrounded by supportive friends that will always have my back and love me no matter if I'm 150 pounds or 450 pounds. Ladies and gents I am here to tell you that your health, your looks, and your feelings are YOURS! Nobody else's. It has taken me years to finally find true happiness.

To anyone else in this situation, I hope that this helps you find the light and confidence inside for you to be truly happy. I hope that this has given you the inspiration to create self-love and to confront negativity. Gandhi said, "We all die eventually, but it's the people who are happy and help to make others happy that truly can die knowing they have impacted something or someone." So I'll leave you with a question, what would rather have?