Well now, that's not a loaded question or anything! One thing I have come to appreciate about these questions is the complete lack of subtlety.
This is yet another one that could be answered so many ways...most of which I would never actually write about.
I have to say that there is a very short list of people that come to mind when I think about this answer though, and the funny part is that many of them are complete strangers. My only experience with these people was so bad that it's stuck in my mind forever.
This one is the winner.
I've written here before about all the things my cousins have that I don't, namely their beauty, their metabolisms and their gorgeous blond hair. Me...well, I'm the stumpy brunette. Always have been, always will be.
I adore my cousins completely and miss them all, but I have to tell you that growing up next to them was hard for an awkward kid like me. There were six of us girls in a four year span. I was the only one of the group who had super dorky glasses. The only one that a perm made look like a poodle. The only one to have acne. You get where I'm going with this.
My grandfather passed away after a massive heart attack, and it was a shock to everyone in the family. The man was still very much in the prime of his life, or so we thought. He could still hold himself out perfectly perpendicular to the tether ball pole in their backyard! And then, just like that, he was gone.
His funeral was hard enough on us all, the group of us huddled in the front pews leaning on each other sobbing through the entire mass.
But if I had to tell you one thing I remember more clearly from that day than anything else, it was the words of a woman I didn't recognize.
All us girls were up hugging Grandma Helen at the front of the church after mass and a woman came up to offer her condolences. She said she was very sorry and all that, looked at the group of all us girls then asked who I was. Grandma of course introduced me as her granddaughter.
Then, this woman, one I'd never seen before and have not ever seen since, said this:
Oh really? I never would have guessed. She doesn't look like all the rest of them.
The words of that one woman, a total stranger, did more damage to my self esteem in 10 seconds than anyone or anything else ever has. My being, my soul, my family, my grief...none of that mattered to a person who judged me on one thing alone. My looks.
Do not ever underestimate the power of your words. They can do far more damage than you imagine.