My little sister turned nine yesterday. The kids at school are calling her a hippo. She’s the same size I was at her age. Taller than the boys and bigger than all the girls. My parents - out of concern, or out of fear, or out of irrational anger at themselves - are always picking at her about her weight. Just like they did to me. I tried to tell them to stop. I told them how it hurts. How I know they want to help but it’s more damaging than good.
My little sister is nine and she already hates her body.
Already has been told that it’s not worthy of friendship or love or brilliance. Already believes that her perfectly round belly and her cute chipmunk cheeks are things to be despised. My mom sent me a picture message of my sister on the treadmill. Like it was a harmless thing. Like it wouldn’t have repercussions. I didn’t reply. I tell myself, “She’ll be okay! You made it through. You were her once. And look at you now!” But not everyone is me and I’m still healing from scars left behind all those years ago. I’m still learning how to not despise myself and every day is a lesson in actively loving myself and not just saying I do.
I want to go home to her. I want to scoop her up against my chest and say, “Vanessa, there is nothing wrong with being fat. Nothing at all. Not a goddamn thing.” I want to tell her she’s the most beautiful thing I have ever loved and in the same breath I want her to know that she is more than beautiful. That beautiful will never be good enough to describe her.
I just want to fly home to her, because I wish that someone had been there to hold me and tell me these things when a felt like a little round fat girl against the world.