Answer by Lisa Lin:
I'd like to offer the perspective of someone who grew up alongside an incredibly beautiful older sister. Basically, having a beautiful sister compounded all of the sufferings of being unattractive because people will naturally make comparisons. We went to school together and were only two years apart, so essentially everyone who knew me happened to know my sister as well. What hurt the most were the casual, innocent comments that weren't intended to harm but nevertheless heightened my awareness of how differently people regarded the two of us because of our looks. Someone would say something like, "That's your sister? You two don't look anything alike." They would comment on how beautiful my sister was, with the implication that I was not. For a teenage girl with growing longings for acceptance, being ignored while a sibling was showered with compliments and attention might as well have been a blow to the face.
My family members were pretty blunt in their judgments of our appearances. My parents pushed me harder than my sister to do well in school because they must have thought that it was the only chance I stood. Meanwhile, I remember them sitting my sister down several times to talk to her about being careful dating in high school, because they (rightfully) assumed that at that time, her beauty would begin to attract the attention of boys.
I remember boys being interested in her, calling our home to ask her out for a walk (back in the day of landlines). I remember boys sneaking to our house to hang out with her during the summer. I remember hiding this from our parents. I remember her walking home from school on Valentine's Day with roses from admirers, while I always returned empty-handed. She must have felt sorry for me, because one year she bought me a rose and had it delivered with a note from a secret admirer. I fell for it and didn't learn the truth until two weeks later. I know my sister didn't have any mean-spirited intentions, but the fact that she thought I would appreciate the fake note is a testament to the magnitude of the difference in our experiences.
I haven't completely made peace with my looks, but I feel a lot better now. Going to a different college removed the constant comparisons with my sister. I've developed a taste in clothing that makes me feel more confident. I still don't get much attention from guys. Whatever ... haters gonna hate. I was told recently by a friend from high school that I actually look alright. Maybe the constant presence of my beautiful sister really got to my head. Anyways, I don't envy her. Everyone has struggles of his or her own, and despite her striking beauty and ability to attract attention, my sister surely has struggles that I would never comprehend.
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