In the summer of 2010, I heard the same thing all the time: “Your sister is so pretty!” I looked at her with pride. She was getting noticed by all of my friends. She was thin, taller than me, and less curvy. She was the pretty sister.
I understood that my body wasn’t perfect, but I was far from obsessed with body image. Then my life went downhill. I was in an abusive relationship with a man who made sure that I believed my body wasn’t good enough. The subject of “fat” was forbidden in our house, but that didn’t stop me from beating myself up after every slice of cake and piece of chocolate I ate.
I was so obsessed with what I put into my mouth that I didn’t realize how it was affecting my two younger sisters. The growing obsession started to change them both, but in different ways. The youngest one got sick and barely ate anything. Unlike our younger sister, my "pretty" sister's weight started to go up. When I was finally back to being myself, this sister was no longer being called "pretty." But to me, she’d become beautiful.
I learned to enjoy food again from my sister. My relationship left me a ghost of my former self and I couldn't stand eating at the same time as my family: The amount of food would make me feel sick. Slowly but steadily, I pulled out of a spiral toward an eating disorder when my sisters and I started baking together. I see this as the real turning point: I would eat a cupcake once every few months, and it wouldn’t make me hate myself.
I also started admiring my sister’s body even more than before. Where mine had been weak and fragile, hers was unbreakable. For once I was able to see beyond skinny and saw that my sister had a strong and enduring body. She put it through hours of soccer practice and endless workouts, and rewarded it with food.
When I moved away from home, I had to learn how to take care of myself, and part of that was learning to love food again. Whenever I make dinner now, I FaceTime home and talk to my parents as they sit at the table and eat their food.
My body has grown stronger, and I love it better now that it is athletic and healthy than I did when it was skinny. To me, weight is no longer a measure of beauty or a measure of a person's worth, because no weight can determine whether or not you are taking proper care of your body. Bodies come in different shapes and sizes, and even though I still look short and skinny next to my sister, we are both healthy — and that is what matters.
If you or someone you know is dealing with mental illness, there are ways to get help. Find resources, tips, and immediate help at Half of Us, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
Want to be an MTV Founders contributor? Send your full name, age, and pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org.