We found that obese black and white teenage girls who transitioned out of obesity continued to see themselves as fat, despite changes in their relative body mass. Further, obese white girls had lower self-esteem than their normal-weight peers and their self-esteem remained flat even as they transitioned out of obesity.
So the stigma of obesity apparently lasts longer than the pounds themselves. For a sad illustration of this, take a look at Dara-Lynn Weiss's already much-criticized Vogue piece on how she forced her daughter, Bea, to lose weight. Specifically, Bea's side of the story:
"That's still me," she says of her former self. "I'm not a different person just because I lost sixteen pounds." I protest that, indeed, she is different. At this moment, that fat girl is a thing of the past. A tear rolls down her beautiful cheek, past the glued-in feather. "Just because it's in the past," she says, "doesn't mean it didn't happen."