Two normal bodies, yet I spent years believing mine was flawed.
That’s me and my sister, about 30 years apart. From the very beginning of our lives, we had different body types. She is now, and has always been, thin. I am now, and have always been, thick. We’re very close in height and have the same biological parents, but our body types are different. In the pic on the left, I was a member of Weight Watchers, so my war with my body had already begun. A war that resulted in obesity , obsession with food, obsession with my weight, and deteriorating health by my mid-30′s.
When I look at the picture of us as children, I see two healthy bodies. Now. Back then, I saw one ‘normal’, or ‘correct’ body and one ‘fat’ body. I being the fat one. Culture sent me messages daily that my sister’s body type was ‘right’ and my own was wrong. I know now that she was getting similar messages, a sense that she was ‘too skinny’, but then, I thought she was lucky and I was jealous. And I lashed out at her and teased her about being ‘anorexic’ (sorry sis), because bringing her down made me feel temporarily better about myself (that’s a pretty common behavior for children and people who haven’t learned how to manage their emotions maturely. I see it all the time on facebook, from grown adults unfortunately).
I fought my body for 25 years. I tried to force it to be more like my sister’s. She was, for a long time, the standard I measured myself against. I compared myself to her (and to women on TV and in magazines), and it made me miserable. And for what? Look at the picture of us. Those are both healthy bodies! They are both ‘right’! There is nothing wrong with either of them, so why did I spend 25 years hating myself for being different? When there was nothing wrong? I was just different.
As you can see from the picture on the right, as we grew up our body types remained different. Our adult bodies are as different as our child bodies. I stayed thick, and she stayed thin. Shocker, huh? And both of our bodies are healthy. They are both ‘right’. One is not better, they are just different. But deep conditioning dies hard, and even now I can stand next to my sister (and other women who’s bodies are small and thin and graceful) and feel awkward and ungraceful and huge. Only now I know that that doesn’t make my body ‘wrong’, and that they probably have insecurities and negative conditioning too. So I’m able to stay at peace with my body, my body that is perfectly fine and healthy just the way it is. These are two different body types, and both are normal and healthy.
Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of joy”, and he was right. Comparing myself to my sister led me to decades of unhappiness, and there was nothing wrong with me to begin with. We must stop this.