I’ll Tell You My Pants Size If You Tell Me Yours

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

It’s true. I think I first read that quote in a blog post about body image issues which is fitting because that’s exactly what I’m going to talk about today. Before I get started, I do want those who read this to keep in mind that my intention is not to offend; only to be honest. This is not being written with ill-intent toward any other person. I am simply sharing my point of view.

All my life I have been compared to other people. I am not arrogant enough to believe I am the only person on the planet who has experienced this. It is an extraordinarily universal occurrence. And just as you probably are, I am sick of it in so many ways. Yet, we keep doing this to one another. We all do it. We compare ourselves to other people, we compare our friends with our other friends and our family members with our partner’s family members. As a rule, most of us don’t mean anything by it. It’s just something we do, a learned behavior for the most part…it is what it is. But what makes up the basis of a worthy comparison? Who gets to decide that?

See, I have two remarkably beautiful sisters.

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My lovely sister, Michele, on her wedding day.
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Meet Gina. This picture was taken less than 2 years ago. I’d tell you how old she is, but you wouldn’t believe me. And she would kill me.

Both brunettes, one with stunning blue eyes & a smile that can blind you if you look at it too long, and the other with gorgeous green eyes & a big personality that you can’t help but love even when it’s getting her into trouble. Our oldest sister has always been thin, with long legs & a flat stomach (the likes of which most of the women I know are envious) and she will probably always be that way. I myself have considered her lucky in the past while others have called her “too thin” and even gone as far as to say they thought she was anorexic. People have said these same things about my other sister (pictured above on her wedding day). She was always little as well. It ran in the family I guess.

Then there’s me…I was always jealous of my sisters and their “perfect” bodies. While they were thin with striking eyes & beautiful smiles, boys always interested in them, I felt awkward, chunky & undesirable in comparison.

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This is me when I was 16. Depending upon your own perception, most people would say I was not at all “fat.” Obviously, I was thicker than my sisters, but I wasn’t big. Yet somehow I always thought I was. I never felt up to par. I never felt confident. I never felt pretty. I would look in the mirror and nearly cry because I hated the way I looked. I wore a juniors size 7-9 in jeans and I felt – rather irrationally now that I look back at it – like a cow. From my perspective at the time, all I saw were my sisters constantly being told how beautiful they were & seeing the evidence that I was exactly the opposite based on the level of male attention we each received. Michele and Gina? Off the charts for male attention. Me? Um…that would be like…a one, up until the guy you see in that picture right there. Lol.

They were complimented on how thin & how tall they were, asked what they did to stay so fit, told they could be models, Gina was always getting attention for her incorrigible personality, etc. And Michele was a model for a little while. It was all true; My sisters were and still are two of the most gorgeous women on the planet in my opinion. But at the time, all I heard was how much I didn’t measure up.

People used to make what they thought were innocuous comments about how “cute & chubby” I was or how I “certainly had more meat” on my bones than my sisters. I even had someone point out that my face is a lot fatter than my sister’s. That is when I began learning how to respond with sarcasm. “Great observation there, Sherlock!”

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On top of that, I watched my mom struggle with her weight. People always had to greet her with a loud and obnoxious, “you’ve gained weight” to which her face would sour and she’d mumble a quiet, embarrassed, “yeah” and I would think, “way to go Captain Obvious. You didn’t think she was aware she gained weight so you thought you’d do a public service announcement and let everyone know? What a thoughtful jackass you are.” (More on that later.)

I was poked in the stomach and had bits of my thighs and stomach pinched up and told, “if you can pinch an inch, that’s how you know you’re fat.” I felt disgust every time I had to go shopping for school clothes because my sister would be looking for size 3’s & 5’s & I hated having anyone help me look because I didn’t want to tell them what size I wore. When you’re a teenage girl, sadly your value seems to be directly related to the size of your clothes and how many boys want your phone number. We’ll just say that at every turn, I felt like my sisters were superior to me both in beauty and appeal.

But now…

Michele and I at a costume/birthday party a few years ago.
Michele and I at a costume/birthday party a few years ago.

It all seems so silly when you put it into perspective; there are all sorts of more pressing tragedies in this world, yet body image is one issue that just will not go away. Everybody has issues with it. Everybody! Despite having ‘perfect’ bodies and being amazingly beautiful, Michele and Gina struggled with their own set of issues. While I was busy being disgusted with my average body size & only hearing it when people complimented them, they were dealing with accusations of being anorexic and had people telling them to “eat a sandwich” and things of the like. There were girls much bigger than I was who faced worse struggles and more harsh taunts than anything I experienced on a daily basis. None of those experiences is at all pleasant and it just goes to show that no matter how big or small you are, how attractive, how great your personality is, etc…everybody has something they’re dealing with. No body is perfect and really, what the hell is perfect anyway? And why does everyone feel the need to throw their two cents in about someone else’s weight or appearance? Worry about yourself. Nobody likes to have their flaws & insecurities put in a spotlight by someone who cares nothing about their struggle. More people should take their mama’s advice: if you don’t have anything nice to say, then keep your friggin’ mouth shut.

You will never add up to the impossible magazine-cover standards of this world. So make your own set of standards and live up to those because, as far as body image and self confidence go, the only person you should be worried about making happy is yourself. I’m in a size 11-13 these days & I don’t mind sharing that with you because I feel prettier and more confident than I ever have in my life. Say what you want about it, label me ‘plus-size’…I couldn’t care less at this point. My self-worth doesn’t lie in a number on a scale or printed on the tag of a pair of levi’s. No, I’m not where I’d like to be yet. Yeah, I still have some issues that I’m trying to overcome. It still gets to me a little when people talk about my weight, or comment on the size of my hips and butt (because really, you don’t think I know I have a big ass? I don’t need you to tell me) and I HATE when people touch my stomach (seriously, I will cut you), but I just remind myself that my body has done a lot for me & it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks about it because they’re not the ones who have to live in it. I exercise as often as I can, I feel great and I look damn good in a pair of yoga pants…that’s enough for now. 🙂

It’s true…comparison is the thief of joy. Luckily, I’m not comparing myself to anyone.

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10 thoughts on “I’ll Tell You My Pants Size If You Tell Me Yours

  1. Beth, you have been & always will be one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever known! You have been my best friend my whole life! There are times when I look at you and say to myself, “I wish I had her personality”. You have friends, lots of them! I have lost friends & I only hang out with family because I feel like I am somehow unworthy of friendship because people leave me. I don’t know why. I don’t know what I do or don’t do. I envy you & always have. You are beautiful, always gave been, & always will be! I love you sis!

    • Thank you, Michele!
      That means so much to me coming from you! I want you to know that you are not, in any way, unworthy of friendship. Anyone who calls you their friend is a very special and blessed person. Keep your head up and keep being the beautiful person you are, inside and out. The right people will find their way into your life. Don’t let people who didn’t know how to be your friend dictate who you allow into your life in the future…it doesn’t mean you’re unworthy or that you did anything wrong. It just means it wasn’t meant to be & better things are on the way. Keep trusting God and let him do what he does in your life. ❤

  2. It’s sad how much we let others weigh in on how we perceive ourselves. Ahem, but seriously. And, it is strange to hear you write in a voice that I’ve heard many times in my own head. 😉 Strange, yet awesome. Keep writing. I love every word of truth that bleeds from your pen. (Er, keyboard.)

    • Thank you, Erin! That means a lot to me. I feel like I didn’t really get everything I wanted to say across in this so I’m glad to see that it touched some people despite my not believing it to be my best writing. 🙂 I have another post related to this topic coming up…maybe I’ll do a better job articulating myself in that one. 😉

  3. There is fat shaming and thin shaming in society today. We can’t seem to get away from it. It’s around our health care system, our entertainment and within our own families.

    I don’t like people to comment on my weight because, as a person with lipedema, so much of my weight is beyond my control. I don’t even pay attention to the number anymore because it means nothing. Weight is an effect of gravity on my body – nothing more.

    I compare legs. I try not to, but it’s difficult not to, because all I want are normal legs that don’t hurt. But all the comparison does is hurt me in the long run. I’m learning to appreciate my legs.

    I wish we could all just accept everyone for who they are. When I think of your mom, I think of her kindness and patience. I remember you and Michelle as beautiful children, happy and playful, and Gina is exactly as you said 🙂 Those are the things we should focus on.

    And I wear a size 16 – 18 petite in pants.

    • I believe there are plenty of people in the world who feel exactly the same way. It is my hope that if enough people talk about this, if enough people get sick of being treated like the entire sum of their value lies in a number (whether it be on a scale, in a pair of jeans or the amount of money one makes) that things will eventually change. Until then, I’m more than happy to know that the people in my own tiny corner of the universe are filled with empathy, positivity & acceptance 🙂

    • You know what Christina,
      You made a really good point that I didn’t touch on in this post and I wish I had. There are a lot of factors which are out of our control that do affect our weight. In general, people tend to assume that someone who has gained weight is lazy and anyone who loses it must not be eating or they have some sort of disorder. People also have a very skewed idea of what the average body “should” look like. I don’t think there is really any such thing as an “average” body necessarily because we’re all different, but I do know that we all have flaws and no one looks like a Barbie or Ken doll. That thinking is quite presumptuous and disappointing, especially when you consider the fact that these types of thoughts and opinions are integrated so deeply in our society that this is what our children are learning even if we aren’t the ones teaching it to them. I’m sure I have a whole blog post on that topic as well, lol.

  4. Judging by these photos, if I had to pick the most beautiful face, it would be yours. Not only physical looks, but you have a joy that glows from inside you. You are one of my favorite writers.

  5. Beth, you have certainly put a lot of thought into this article and I appreciate it very much. I have been overweight much of my life. I have been teased and made fun of by many people throughout my life, including family. PEOPLE DO NOT NEED TO JUDGE OTHER ABOUT THEIR SIZE OR HOW THEY LOOK. we need to judge them by how they treat others and how good of a person they are.More people need to look to the inside of a person and not the outside.

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