It’s a running joke in my family that I’m unable to handle change. I wouldn’t disagree with them, I really can’t. One thing has always stayed the exact same my whole life though; I’ve always been fat. Fatness is something I know, I’ve gotten comfortable with and accepted in my later years in life. However, as a child and teenager, that absolutely was not the case.
Whether it was directly made known to me, or said in passing, I felt smothered by it my whole life. My sisters’ weights would fluctuate through skinny and sometimes on the fatter scale, but I was always just…. big Sarah. Fatter than my siblings, fatter than most of my cousins and fatter than most of my friends. These last few days, months, years, I’ve wanted to touch base on that.
I want to focus mostly on my relationship to with my sisters. Even though I do have an older brother, his weight never really affected me. For the record, he’s thin. At a very young age, it was made incredibly clear how I differed from my sisters. My other sisters were sometimes given labels such as “The Pretty Sister” and “The Skinny Sister”. Though it was never directly said to me, I knew where that left me. The sinking feeling of being the ugly one, the fat one, the one who people looked at with a little bit of pity. That was all mine to own. For years, heck, for most of the life, that weighed heavy on me. I struggled through diets, I struggled through depression, I struggled through self harm. To say that its a shock to some people that I’ve gotten to this place is truly an understatement. My older sister would sometimes check up on me in the middle of the night to make sure I was still alive. I never wanted this label.
Weight was always a big issue between us girls, individually and as a group. I cannot stress enough how I was not alone in my battle to accept myself. My youth is plagued with memories of sadness around weight. As I write this, tears as welling in my eyes. I guess I haven’t quite let go of the pain, both for myself and for them. I’ve never admitted this openly before, but for the sake of painful vulnerability and closure, now is the time. Sometimes in my lowest lows, when I’d hear my siblings mention their weight struggles, I’d hate them. I’d truly feel anger towards them for their weight battles because I never felt it was as bad as my own. I never felt they really knew what it was to be really fat, to be really noticed for the one thing you wanted to hide from. I’m not proud of it, because I know that our struggles are valid individually. To this day, I still struggle with that feeling.
The problems at home were often mirrored at school, in public, at extended family occasions and sometimes with friends. Without fail, my weight in relation to my sisters, was brought up eventually. I can recall many occasions when the direct or indirect comment would be made. I just don’t think my extended family really knew, or maybe they did. Maybe they knew that by making snide comments, I’d carry that burden for the rest of my life. Maybe they didn’t know that by mocking my attempt to go on a diet, I’d always doubt my abilities. Maybe they couldn’t tell that I was always shy and quiet for a reason. I am still struggling to process the reason or intent behind some of the interactions I’ve had with those outside my immediate family.
I found a lot of solace in my relationship with my older sister. We could butt heads, we could be each other’s worst enemy. But my god, was she my biggest cheerleader at times. We’re only a year apart, so often times we’d be in the same school. We even ended up working in the same place for roughly 2 years. Through it all, she saw my pain and took it on herself at times. I think she gets that from our mother. I’ve always looked up to my older sister, as most younger siblings do. I thought she was the most beautiful girl in the world. I wanted to be her, to have her physique many times in my life and to have her luck with boys. I hated her a lot, too, and hated how weight just seemed to shed right off of her when she wanted it. There a lot of personal things about our relationship that I’m not willing to share, but we often bonded through our unique struggles with weight. Although she never said it, I think she always felt pressured to maintain a thin physique. As much as I hated being fat, it took no maintenance at all. I’ll never know her struggle, and she’ll never know mine.
Looking back, my younger sister is a bit of a mystery. She was always so distant from us in age, in schools, and I definitely think like she felt as if she had to go through a lot of it on her own. I feel overwhelming sadness knowing I never knew. I used to envy my younger sister for being what’s known as a “pear shape” and spent years cursing the Gods that I was given the figure I have. But I never knew. I never knew, and still don’t know, what that felt like for her. As her big sister (both literally and figuratively), I’ve always wanted to protect and shield her from that pain. Probably much like my older sister did for me. Weight played such a crucial part in my suicidal thoughts, depression and self harm. I couldn’t bare to think of her going through that.
I don’t know how, or when, I started to really learn to claim my title. The Fat Sister used to mean unlovable, undesirable, unfuckable, unattractive and so on. It would feel like a jab in the chest every time someone would compliment my sisters, and leave me out. To be entirely honest, I still get a slight poke whenever that happens. In my later years, I went on to prove myself wrong about being fat. I met boys, I found clothing that fit, I learned to find beauty in my size. Somehow, I stopped feeling like I was trapped by my fatness. In fact, I stopped looking at my fatness as my only descriptor. I am Sarah Anne; a goofy, loving, fashionable, clumsy, creative, individual and more.
I want to dedicate this post to my sisters, who I haven’t always had the best relationship with. However, as my mother always says, when all my friends are gone, I’ll always have them.