Sure, it can be fun to mess with people. However, dear brother, it’s never okay to mock what another person cannot control. Tonight at dinner you ridiculed my weight. You called me fat in a tone that implied I was ugly, even disgusting.
In all 14 years of your existence, you never once crossed this line before tonight. You looked me right in the eye and said it as though it were nothing less than fact. Have you thought this about me all along?
Regardless of the fact that I am not your definition of skinny, I am quite healthy. I eat well and am generally happy. My eyes are bright, and I have a capable brain. To me this is plenty, as there is so much more to a person than appearance.
What did you hope to achieve by calling me fat? Did you want me to feel weak? Years of insecurities have taught me to divert my brain to the positives whenever I begin to feel plagued by nasty thoughts. It’s been only one of many battles against myself, which are the hardest kind to fight. Although I found your comment hurtful, that is not my main concern.
I am only one person of thousands you will observe and judge in your lifetime. If you judge your own sister for her appearance, how will you see strangers? Will your biases prevent interaction with them? If so, then you will miss out on meeting a lot of amazing people. Some day you may marry. What if your wife gains weight? Will your perceptions about her change?
Our society is in a constant fight between harmful standards and the genuine need to abandon them. The double standards that envelop women are atrocious, and it saddens me that my own sibling conforms to and perpetuates them. When we label people as fat or skinny, it is as though we measure them and give them value. What if they learn to measure their own worth from the judgments of people like you? The value they give themselves won’t be very big, and that is a terrible way to live. Please don’t measure others as you have measured me.
I have forgiven you, brother. You are still my sibling and will continue to be tomorrow. As soon as I condemned you, I also forgave. It is not entirely your fault that you think this way. Society is a brutal and erroneous teacher. I would be proud if you could learn this lesson. It’s rather difficult to learn another person’s lesson, because it isn’t always intended for you. Because society wants me to be a size 2 and I’m not, I have been forced to teach myself.
I want you to learn the lessons taught to all of the people out there who aren’t blessed with nice bodies, pretty faces, able minds, and other assorted privileges. Loving yourself comes first. Measure yourself before you let others measure you. Are you kind? Do you care? Do you love? Those are some things you should ask yourself before you try to figure out if you’re what others want you to be. Chances are, if you answer honestly, you won’t care what everyone else thinks.
Please, though, learn to not judge others too quickly. Look beyond their appearance to inform your opinions. They will appreciate it.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.