April love: We smile. We fight.

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These are the smiles of sisters.

Of women who have stuck together for 22 years.

These are the smiles of two people who have been mistaken for twins more times than I can count, though in all honesty I still don’t see it.

Behind these smiles are more laughing fits, creative thoughts, and defeated tears than anyone can count.

These smiles shine, however small, in the midst of ongoing physical pain that the medical world doesn’t seem to have a place for. But no matter what, we know that our iron wills can’t be touched by whatever storm our bodies decide to deal out on a particular day.

These smiles haven’t always come so abundantly or easily. They’ve made it through years of scrutiny; of believing our noses are too weird or skin too spotted or lips too small. Of being told by fellow girls that there was just something wrong there, that for whatever reason, we didn’t belong.

Does anyone come out of those years unscathed?

Now we know what the beauty narrative doesn’t: that at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you put on makeup and a red dress or if you slapped on a hat and ripped-up jeans over unwashed hair and unshaved legs. Neither make you more or less of a woman. Neither change who you are inside.

These smiles have made it though times of undue attention, of whispers behind the hands of insecure teenage boys and cat-calls on the streets near our college. They’ve made it through boys who want ownership when they should show respect, make fun when they should say “I’m sorry,” exhibit anger when they can’t understand that “it’s over” means that yes, it’s really over.

We learned a lot from those times, I suppose. And now we cherish the gifts of respect, maturity, and thoughtfulness in the men we’re with today.

My sister is beautiful, in every sense. She’s been through more than I can say, more than I even realized at the time. Some days I wish I could go back and love her a bit louder than I did. All days I’m grateful for who she is and how she’s using her voice to make some right in a world that sometimes seems only skin-deep.

These smiles haven’t come free. Keeping them has been a fight. These women have been through hell, but they’ve seen heaven too. There’s far more on the road ahead, but if there’s anything I know, it’s that they will stick together, and will keep on smiling.

These are the smiles of women who have stuck together for 22 years.

These are the smiles of sisters.

 

This is a video my sister made, in which she speaks out about her struggles with bullying and self-image. I think everyone should listen to it. Your words matter. Be kind.

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3 thoughts on “April love: We smile. We fight.

  1. Pacha blessing on you both. Your words, both those written and those spoken, are as important as they are deep. I am glad that you have made others know your pains and your joys. I’m proud of you.
    GT

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