Sisters and Weight: It's Complicated

Is getting teased about your body just part of having a sister?

"Sisters that share everything, even their eating disorders!" This was the sensational, albeit true, title of the segment for my very first time on TV. My sister Laura and I were in New York City to be interviewed on a popular morning show about how she "caught" anorexia from me when we were teens. When the host asked me if we still influenced each other with weight issues, I had to laugh. If ever there was a complicated relationship, it would be sisterhood.

This is what I first thought of when I read the "Dear Prudence" column this week and the first letter was about one sister constantly body-snarking on her twin after her twin gained weight. Writes "Guts and Butts," I have a larger waist, while [my twin] has a larger bottom half. I never say anything to her about her hips or her butt, but one day the topic of underwear came up. I happen to wear a couple of sizes smaller than she does. She thought I was lying about it. I don't know what to tell her anymore when it comes to weight. She always treated it as a competition, while I couldn't care less."

I'm sure Prudie had some good advice but what I've been pondering ever since is how many women have similar relationships with their sisters. When I was growing up my sister and I not only shared our childhood but we shared a room, shared a bathtub, shared clothes and shared a mirror so it was inevitable that we would compare our bodies. Fortunately, we never made fun of the other's body. Unfortunately, we also shared a genetic predisposition to eating disorders and we were competitive about weight -- a disastrous combination.

Today as adults, my sister is my best friend and we talk daily about everything... except our weight. Even years later, the old pain lingers and after too many teary conversations we've made a pact to leave it alone. No more fat talk. No more diets. No more scale confessions. And it works well for us. Both of us are happier and healthier than we've ever been but it only came from recognizing the unique and powerful influence that sisters have with one another. There is no one who understands me like my sister and therefore there is no one who can hurt me as deeply as my sister. Thankfully she holds my heart gently.

Do you have sisters and if so, is body snarking part of your dynamic?

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