Jelly speaking: To start off with, I would like to share with the world that I am not overly well endowed. As in, small boobs. It doesn’t matter to me much, it suits me and has unexpected perks like being able not to wear a bra on occasion but still. It’s there. Or rather, not.
What I want to rant about today is my little sister’s obsession with appearance, but of course it goes beyond that.
She is twelve, blondy-brown, hairy (as are all our noble family) and goes to a mixed comprehensive, as opposed to me (private girls school). Her main aim in life is to be like the skinny, confident girls who bully her and I don’t think that is right or fair. Hally is beautiful and no-one can tell her different, yet they regularly do.
Take, for example, her wearing of a bra. As I have mentioned, I can go to school without wearing a bra and I am two years older. She started wearing a bra after being victimised in the changing rooms for not wearing one. Even today, she says that a girl from the Czech Republic does not wear a bra and people throw things at her. When I told her about my lack of support, she looked me in the eye and called me a pervert.
God, I am scared about what is happening to her, She is normal weight yet goes on a juice diet for a week to ‘lose her baby fat’. She shaved her legs of the fine blond fuzz yesterday, after being tormented for weeks about it. I walked into the bathroom and found her bleaching her moustache.
Is this a world where a perfectly normal twelve-year-old has to change herself, her personality (and this she regularly does) to fit in? I don’t want it to be. I don’t want to have to tell her, as my big sister did to me, that it is okay not to shave your legs or your armpits or to be ‘an independent woman, even of gravity’ once in a while. I want to be the one to teach her that it is okay to like your body and okay not to have perfect curled hair (Hally, God knows, no-one can keep that up) and above all, okay not to fit in.
Take me for example. I am a nerdy bookish hairy bleached blonde girl who thinks she might like girls with 4-inch roots and I stopped trying to be cool a year ago. Needless to say, I am happier than I have been for a long time.
But it doesn’t appear as if it is going to be that easy for Hally (not that it was easy for me, of course). Her mixed school, with all the intense and important subtle overlays that comes with the presence of BOYS! OMG! and even though Hally doesn’t seem to be interested in the other sex, it still impacts on her.
We used to be TIGHT despite the age difference and now it has come to the point where she insults me daily for choices that I am proud of using words that she is parroting off her ‘friends’ at school. She calls me ‘lesbian’ like it’s an insult, ‘fat’ like I care, ‘ I want to help my lil’ sister. I want to break through the barrier of the tantrums and the frustration that comes from not understanding anything in school yet being too proud to ask the teacher. Her dyslexia has not been helped by ADD and even less so by the fact that she has pressure from all sides to keep up with her friends, her Cambridgian sister and me.
Yet, when she looks me in the eye for another insult that stings but I know it shouldn’t (she doesn’t know what she’s saying, she loves you, you are sisters like you have always been), instead of answering that plea for help written in the incomprehension of why she is still unhappy despite everything she has done, I spit right back at her and walk off and feel guilty for my helplessness.
I want to tell her that is going to be okay. But how can I when this world is still heavily dominated by a man’s view of a woman, and when my dad can tell me, calm as he pleases, that ‘he works and we clean’? How can I let my baby sister loose on the world? How can I let the world loose on her?
Opinions as always, and woah. This article changed dramatically from ‘patriarchy’s view of women’ to ‘OMG MY BABY SISTER IS GROWING UP AND I DON’T LIKE WHAT I SEE’ .