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Sisters - same genes, just not the same 'jeans'
ASK LORI and LIANE, July 2007, by Liane Knoll-Kowk and Lori Clemente
Same genes, just
not the same ‘jeans’!
Dear Lori and Liane,
I’m a twin. My sister and I are not identical, we have the same friends and go to the same high school. The problem is that my sister is about 20Ibs. over-weight and about 4 inches shorter than me. She’s awesome in personality so everyone likes her, but I know she feels bad that she doesn’t look more like me. I’m just a regular looking girl myself, but sometimes people say “the fat twin” or the “skinny one”. We eat the same, do the same stuff, but for some reason, she gains weight and I don’t. I love her and don’t want her to be sad. She doesn’t say anything, and we both act like it’s fine. How can I support her and what can we do?
~Signed, same genes but way different jeans
Liane: Wow! Your sister is a lucky girl to have you on her side. Sisters are often compared when they are close in age, and especially when they are twins. Not fair, but a fact of life, and one I’m sure you know you’ll be dealing with forever.
Lori: As it is REALLY common (and annoying) for people to compare twins, it can be especially hard on the one that feels like she “falls short.” The fact that you are sensitive enough to see how your sister is hurt by this says a lot about you. I think that being aware of her feelings is one of the most important things for you to do to help her out.
Liane: There can be many reasons why you two look different, and it’s important to remember that you don’t have the same genes. Whether you were born 10 minutes or 10 years apart, it’s just not all the same when you’re a fraternal twin (not identical).
Lori: In my practise, I see lots of people who can’t seem to figure out why they are overweight. Most of the time it really is just a matter of simple math: too much in, not enough out (excess calories in, not enough exercise to balance things out). You say that you eat the same and do the same stuff, but even when you live with a person, you still may not be aware of all that that person is eating. Your sister may not even realize the amount or types of foods she is eating that are higher in calories. You both may benefit from reviewing what you eat with a dietitian to see if there is room for improvement.
Liane: “Twin guilt” is also something that is experienced by many girls with same-aged sisters. They often feel torn between wanting to succeed and being loyal to their sister. They sometimes feel guilty and worry about how their success will affect the other. Once in a while, they will purposefully not do their best so that their sister will feel better. You two are being thoughtlessly compared by others, and that makes you both feel sad and upset. A good response to comparisons might be something like: “Please don’t compare us, we’re different people”. If someone is actually rude enough to identify you by your body type, a sarcastic comment like “We do actually have names, you know!” is warranted.
Your sister sounds like she has a lot going for her. When those who matter spend the time to get to know her, her personality will shine through... and she’s got you to help her make that happen! Remind her and others about her good qualities when necessary and don’t forget to keep trying your best in life as well. It’s OK to succeed and it’s OK to be different.
Lori: I agree. And keep in mind that you may be burning off food more easily than your sister because of a quicker metabolism.
We are all different and some people burn calories more easily than others. Does one of you look more like your Mom or Dad’s side of the family? I bet you do. The side of the family you take after will definitely affect how you look.
Finally, make sure your sister talks to her Doctor or Nurse Practitioner. She may have a medical reason for being heavier. Our differences are what make us unique and interesting. Cherish them!
Keep your feet on the ground!