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"Sometimes you’re born the way you are and you stay that way and sometimes you don't."

A Tale of Two Sisters: Why people need to stop focusing on our physical differences

Hey there. I’m Jess. I’m Tera. We’re sisters. Same mom. Same dad. Same blood. Full-on related. Grew up in the same house. Attended the same schools. Went on the same family road trips. That’s a picture of us from when we were kids at Sauble beach. Check out our sweet, sweet ‘80s swimsuits and gorgeous bowl haircuts.

Something else you might notice about the photo is that the two of us have extremely different “body types” as people like to put it. Although we’re obviously equally beautiful (no shame in loving yourself, especially if you’re a Beaulieu, we have good genes), folks have a way of pointing out our physical contradictions time and time again. They comment on how one of us is 6 feet tall and the other is 5’5. How one of us has perfect skin and the other has suffered with acne for years. How one of us is a size four and the other is a size eighteen. I, Jess, have been thin since the day I was born and I, Tera have been full bodied (like a good wine) since the day I was born. We’re both self-aware individuals, and when we look at ourselves in the mirror we are totally content with who we are and what we see. Yet others like to examine our figures and when comparing us are quite perplexed by what they consider to be an anomaly.

One of Jess’s acquaintances met our family recently, and after seeing us together, our varying “body types” side by side, they said “That’s your family eh? Weird. How is it that you’re so… small?” to which Jess replied “I have a fast metabolism, you idiot.” This confusion is something we come upon often and we never understand it. See, society assumes that because we’re related we must have identical DNA. How is it, they ponder, that these sisters could possibly have different “body types”? It MUST be their lifestyles. There follows a lot of snap judgements. They assume that Jess is a size four because she works out constantly/only consumes dry lettuce/smokes/drinks too much coffee/drinks too much Red Bull/counts every calorie, and they look at Tera and assume she isn’t a size four because she doesn’t exercise/eats badly/doesn’t smoke/doesn’t drink coffee/doesn’t drink red bull/never counts calories.When in actuality the answer is much more simple. We look the way we do, because we look the way we do. That’s all there is to it. We were born this way, remember?

It amazes our friends when we tell them that we ate the same food growing up. We both ate McDonalds. We both ate Lean Cuisines. We both ate low fat yogurt. We both ate full fat mayonnaise. In fact I, Jess ate MORE food and WORSE food than I, Tera did and this is still true today. I, Jess buy most of my meals out and inhale a burrito at least once a day, more often three times a day. I, Tera go to the grocery store, purchase healthy food, and use said food to make my breakfast, lunch, AND dinner. WHAT? HOW THOUGH? THIS IS BAFFLING. THE MEDIA, SPECIFICALLY,CANNOT GRASP THIS WHATSOEVER. I, Tera also, get this, have a personal trainer. I, Jess have been telling myself I’m going to do yoga regularly for the past three years, and if I do yoga once every three months I buy myself a congratulatory six pack of beer to celebrate which I then drink within twenty minutes of purchasing it. As children we engaged in the same activities. We were both baseball players and ballet dancers. We woke up at the same time. We went to bed at the same time. We napped at the same time. We lived identical lives and we looked the way we did because we looked the way we did.

Even if we try to explain it to people with statements like “You see, Jess poos WAY more often than Tera does” it doesn’t matter. We are still asked these questions. “You’re sisters? Same parents? Really? How? Confusing”. Why is that confusing? We do actually look quite alike. We both have massive feet. Before Jess got braces in her early twenties, we both had gaps in our teeth. We both have brown hair. We have the same nose. Our voices are interchangeable. On the phone no one can tell us apart. We’re both feminists. We’re both Métis. We’re both enraged by our mother.

But these similarities disappear in the face of everyone’s obsession with our “body types,” because more often than not (especially for women), our bodies are what the world sees—and judges, and values—first and foremost when we look at someone. Outsiders notice that we look different and try to explain why. But that why is frequently wrong. That why is frequently a construction. That why is frequently what magazines, and television shows, and narrow-minded “fitness gurus” have told us is RIGHT. That why, that snap judgement, that shaming, that pity, that short-sighted perspective, that assumption after assumption, that superficial thought, that concern where there needs to be no concern, is just a pile of plain old bull crap.

Sometimes you’re born the way you are and you stay that way and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you’re not a size four, or you are a size four, because you CHOOSE to be and you feel GREAT about that choice. That’s the life you want to live, and if you’re happy and healthy, who gives a shit? We all have different bodies that operate in different ways and no one but the owner of that body has the right to share their opinion about its operations. Things aren’t always as simple as “exercise and you’ll shed pounds”, “eat badly and you’ll gain weight”, or “I can tell your sisters because you’re both tall, thin, and have great skin.” So, please, lets quit it with inquiring about appearances. Lets stop telling people they belong to different “types” and that certain siblings don’t make biological sense. Enough with making assumptions because often we know nothing of that person’s life and it is also none of our business, unless they want it to be. In terms of what you need to know about the Beaulieu sisters, here it is: we’re both sassy, we’re both smart, we’re both hilarious, and we’re both fucking awesome. End of story.

2 comments
Leigh van Maaren
Leigh van Maaren

ah man, as a 6'1, size 18 lady with a 5'7, size 2 sister, i really feel this article.