I notice some differences when it comes to my body image.
Ever since I was young, I was told that I had to be careful with what I ate because I came from a family of fat people and fat runs in my blood.
At the same time, I was told to finish my food and leave no leftovers because of how lucky I was to have food. I was told to think of all the starving children in the Philippines who had no food. If I didn’t want to finish my food, I was told that the food was “crying” and that I had to eat it even though I was full.
Meanwhile, my sister is naturally skinnier than me. We have different body types. I collect more fat. I’ve been described as “voluptuous”, “thick” or “curvy”. She is naturally more coordinated and athletic. She was blessed with being good at sports, which is amazing and I am super proud of her.
But she was never told to watch what she eats. No one was worried about her getting fat, even though the same blood runs in our veins.
Perhaps it is our eating habits? Growing up she would give me the food that she didn’t want to finish so that she wouldn’t get in trouble for not finishing her food — which tbh I loved because the food was super good.
In the end, my sister has more self control when it comes to eating and she is more active than I am. This has led to her having a better physique.
Because of this, I noticed some differences in how people treated us.
When I visited the Philippines my great aunt said to my face that she hated how I looked. That I was “too big”.
When my sister visited, she starred in a commercial —which makes sense because she is very beautiful.
At a family wedding, the uncles and aunties doted on my sister. They asked how our family was, how she was doing, etc.
At the same family wedding the same uncles and aunties didn’t really want to engage with me.
In photos, my sister is free to pose. I’m usually the photographer. And when I do star in photos, sometimes they coordinate the poses to have someone block the view of my stomach.
I’m told I can only wear certain clothes whereas my sister can look great in whatever she wears.
Now, let me give the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps the cause of this is our different demeanors. I am more reserved than my outgoing sister. She is a social butterfly while I tend to keep to myself. For instance, on BART she actually talked to the crazy guy yelling at people, whereas I gave him the side eye, making sure he didn’t do anything sketch to her. She wanted to be kind, whereas I was hostile from the beginning. (In the end he just wanted money).
However, I suspect the difference is more because of our differences in physique.
She is more slender. Her hair is thick and straight. Her skin is fairer. She fits more of the traditional standard of beauty for Filipinos.
Meanwhile I have wavy, messy hair. I’ve been called “bruha” or “troll doll” because of it when I was younger. My skin is tanner. And, of course, I am not skinny.
I love my sister. I think she is wonderful and beautiful. When people tell me how great she is my answer is almost always: “of course, she is my sister, what do you expect?” But, I do admit that I am jealous of her body.
I want to love how I look. I want to be healthy. I want to gain confidence in my outward appearance. I refuse to lay in a puddle of self pity. I will work hard to be strong. No pain, no gain. I will hit the gym and watch my food.
I want to love who I see in the mirror, stomach and thick thighs included.