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my sister’s struggles

Trigger warning for diet talk

My younger sister has always “struggled” with her weight. She’s always “felt” fat. I used to be much the same and I’m sure the vast majority of girls growing up were too. I don’t know what age it started and I don’t know exactly what triggered it, but the both of us grew up “feeling” fat.

It might have been we both developed a lot sooner than our peers. We were both a lot taller than them too. I know I felt like a giant amongst little munchkins. It was particularly obvious during sport — whenever it came time for us to change into our togs, I’d always find some excuse change in a toilet, or skip swimming altogether.

I know this feeling continued on until late high school for me, and I know it’s continued even further than that for my sister. I discovered health at every size and intuitive eating. She did not.

She grew even taller than me. She’s the tallest in our family next to my older brother, who is around 6`3”. We’re naturally bigger-boned and hippy. Every woman on our side of the family is.

She has constantly wanted to change her body. Not just to lose weight, but to change her body shape. I got sick of hearing it, over and over again; I got sick of constantly being triggered by her body and diet talk. I’d had enough and decided to say something.

She listened. For years, I’ve been trying to get her to focus more on her inner self, to listen to her body and its wants and needs, and to stop punishing herself for her body.

Funnily enough, once she started doing this, she started joining group sports. Keeping up a regular pace instead of doing too much too soon and stopping because she was bored or she hurt herself from pushing herself too hard. She’s been more social and I can see she’s a lot happier in herself.

However, society’s conditioning is hard to change. It’s hard to reprogram yourself. She asked me the other day: How do I look in the mirror and not see chunky? I told her it’s a process. Acceptance, self-acceptance in particular is a life-long struggle. There will be set-backs, there will be bad days. But I hope she gets there in the end and I’ll help her if she needs it.

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