Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Sister obsessed with beauty(69 Posts)
I’m in my late 20s, my sister is a couple of years younger. I have always been the ‘clever one’ and she has always been the ‘pretty one’. We actually look very similar and if we go to eg a party together are constantly mixed up or asked if we are twins.
Over the past couple of years she has become more and more obsessed with appearance and beauty etc and has made a number of comments recently which have really gotten to me. I take care of my appearance, have struggled with confidence and the demands of beauty standards etc in the past but generally am content with myself unless I hear something negative about myself.
Examples are texting me last week over the course of two days that she’d seen a picture of herself on Facebook where it looked like she had a double chin and that it had upset her so much she’d been in tears and her boyfriend had bought her flowers - the double chin is a family heirloom that we both share and have joked about in the past. She’s been looking into cosmetic surgery to get it removed. It feels like she is in a way saying I am also ugly, unacceptable and need surgery
She’s constantly obsessing over her skin, spending a fortune on electronic face masks, facials and skin creams from across he world - she has perfect skin, always has and certainly always better than mine! When telling me about a £60 gadget she’s bought this week she said ‘I just thought if it’s upsettig me that much it’s worth it’. Makes me wonder how awful she must think my skin looks!
Out today with our 12 year old cousin, Aunty and Mum. When the 12 year old had left she said ‘her hair just always looks like it needs a brush’ - I thought it looked fine and again wondered how much she must be judging the rest of us I mentioned this to my mum and my mum gave me a knowing look as she also makes comments like this to my Mum - pointing out her flyaway hair or laughing at her outfits etc
A friend once said she likes things like permanent mascara as she’s ‘essentially lazy in the mornings and would rather have the extra time in bed’. I agreed jokigly that I was the same. Sister sounded disgusted and said ‘oh no I’m not, I like to make an effort with my appearance’. It feels like she holds this a virtue and something that makes her better than other people.
I would really like some advice on how to deal with this as to be honest I have at times avoided her as her comments really make me feel low sometimes and are terrible for my self esteem. She is a lovely girl in many respects and I love her as a sister and we get on very well but days like today where there’ve been three or four comments are really getting me down
I think there are just people like that op. I work with people who comment on clothing to the point that I sick o a black top most days as it is inoffensive and takes me out of the (not that I bother) 'competition'
Dh sister makes offensive comments too. I avoid her though - I know you can't. It is Wrong that she makes those comments to your cousin and mum. Very unfair and a bit bitchy, to be honest.
I think you need to stop making her issues your issues, and when she says something that bothers you, tell her. Tell her she can kindly keep comments about her standards of beauty to herself.
Tell her that while she’s fine to take so much interest in the way she looks, it’s not ok to snipe at other people or put them down, whether they can hear her or not.
Some people enjoy a beauty routine, some don’t. That’s up to them, but putting someone down is just mean. I think she needs to hear that.
Thank you for your comments.
I think it’s that the comments are either focused on features we share - the double chin or fine eyebrows etc (she has had hers microbladed)
Or they imply that anything less than her standard/ perfect is so intolerable that it needs constant attention/ cash/ surgery until it is corrected. As I say I have struggled with the media’s beauty standards etc like most women do but am generally accepting of my appearance now, but when your sister who looks so similar to you is saying to your face that all these things are not right it does hurt.
I think it’s very telling that you’ve always been the ‘clever one’ and she the ‘beauty one’.
It sounds an awful lot like she’s been brought up to think her value is in her looks and now she is clinging onto that. Maybe she wouldn’t be so critical if she felt there were other areas of her life she could excel at.
Deal with what?? She likes to look a certain way. Her appearance is important to her. Let her get on with it. It has nothing to do with you.
I have certain hang ups about my appearance but at the same time absolutely hate the drag queen beauty regime that is popular at the moment and think it looks awful. To me it spoils people's appearance but for the people doing it, they obviously think they look better that's why they spend the time and money on it. Different strokes.
Yes I know you are all right really - really I need to bolster my own confidence and ignore her comments but for me at least that it certainly easier to say than to do!! Especially when it’s a family member
You can have the same attribute as someone else and love it on them but hate it about yourself.
I think you're being selfish for trying to make this about you. It's not. Your sister sounds very insecure about the way she looks and you'd do well to support her rather than judge. Have you tried offering some reassurance?
WOnderlime has it spot on in my opinion.
If she’s been called the “pretty one” growing up, that’s really damaging. It will make her feel that people are only valuing her for her looks, and that will have had a knock on effect on her self-esteem whenever she doesn’t look her best. And what about the ageing process, I certainly don’t envy your sister!
She sounds so lacking in confidence, I would simply feel sorry for her. If her unkind comments get too much I’d have to say something though. “Some people actually don’t care how they look and that must be a nice unstressful position to be in”
I have struggled with the media’s beauty standards etc like most women do
What do you mean by this? Not sure it's quite as universal as you make out.
I have struggled with the media’s beauty standards etc like most women do
I have too. It’s a weird internal dialogue, bouncing back and forth between worrying about your looks and being pissed off that you’re pressured into worrying about your looks.
Why don’t you just say next time “those are traits we have in common so stop banging on about them! And just accept them as I have done!” This is how you feel after all and she is your sister. So your relationship should be able to take it.
TheSpottedZebra I mean the pressure to stay slim, conventionally attractive, feminine etc
Yes Rita that’s exactly how I am! I’ve seen it described as internalised misogyny and for me its not been a straightforward thing to overcome but I am getting there and glad of it!
I like your suggestion and will aim to say it in a lighthearted way if the opportunity comes up
I think there's a lot of sibling rivalry between you.
I agree, your sister's obsession with her looks demonstrate her deep insecurities. I don't think she's purposefully trying to make you feel inferior with her comments. Rather she wants validation of her own appearance.
She probably feels envious of you and your achievements.. Remember it's been drummed into her from a young age that her looks are her asset, and looks do fade in time.
Perhaps try complimenting her on her appearance when you see her and then steering the conversation in a different direction?
Also, why not tell her you feel upset when she criticises herself so harshly and that you feel like she's judging you? Don't fester over this, get it out in the open if it's bothering you.
It's a funny one. Paradoxically, your family who are meant to be closest to you are often the people who dont know you at all.
They get ideas about you in early life and it rarely changes. I have found that with friends I can really be me.
For example both my sister and I danced right until mid teens. She always owned it. It was hers. She was better at it so she said. She wanted to work in performing arts
she didnt make it. I wasnt really allowed to have it: she was the dancer in the family.
I always persevered with pilates and yoga but gave up dancing. At a new gym and new yoga and gym teachers, one remarked I was very graceful and asked if I used to be a dancer and I confirmed I was.
Then I got the nickname ballet niki at the gym as there areba few people with the same name as me.
I have this whole other personality away from my family that really fits who I am and I feel more me away from family.
Dancing is my sisters thing among my family, no one considers I have any claim to it despite dancing for just as long.
Op never mind what your sister says. Just ignore her. She sounds ragingly insecure. Just be yourself away from her.
In situations when she talks about other people, such as your cousin, you could pivot the conversation to something else about your cousin. Instead engaging about her hair, say something like, "oh, I just think its great that she's (competing in swimming, playing the violin, getting good marks)" really ANYTHING about the cousin that isn't about looks.
When she obsess to you about her own looks, politely comment, then change the subject. "Yeah, I hate it when someone posts a bad photo of me, too. Have you seen the new movie with so and so?" Just change the subject to something else. Keep changing the subject. Eventually she'll figure out that you aren't someone she can use to obsess about her looks.
None of this is about you. She is spending her time, her money, and her life on being decorative. She's wasting a chunk of her life on it. And she's really young. If she doesn't grow as a person, I can't image what she'll be like in her 40s and 50s. This is about her, and what is going on in her head.
As far as feeling more secure in yourself, remind yourself of all the many, many ways that you are remarkable. Think of yourself as a whole person, your brain, personality, spirit.
I agree it's about her.
She has the identity of being the pretty one in the family and doesn't want to lose it.
So you are offended that she takes care of her appearance?
It's like if you have a friend who is same size as you, and she decides to lose weight, you take it as a personal insult as it implies you are fat too.
You are being unreasonable. She has a right to enhance her appearance in whatever way to feels is right for her. If you like yourself the way you are, it should not bother you. If you don't like yourself, this is an issue for your to deal with, not her.
I completely identify with what you wrote Nikibabe if I turn up to a family event dressed and styled really nicely my dad feels really awkward and will really struggle to compliment me for example, or if I’m going to a spa day, have a new hair cut or mention I’m having my nails done etc everyone seems to find it hilarious as that’s my sister’s ‘territory’
I remember a few months ago telling DP how I felt about the whole thing after an upsetting comment from sister and he couldn’t believe that I considered less feminine or attractive than my sister - I think because he sees me for who I am rather than as the ‘clever’ or less ‘pretty’ one
'It sounds an awful lot like she’s been brought up to think her value is in her looks and now she is clinging onto that.'
'They get ideas about you in early life and it rarely changes.'
This and this. And your last post says it all, op. Either politely disengage as Coyote suggests and personally reframe the comments in light of the above. Or if you are close and feel able, you could gently raise the above issues with your sister and try to get her to reframe her own perspective.
The messages our parents project are immensely powerful.
The same cousin a couple of years ago said, talking about my sister and I, ‘I have one clever cousin and one pretty one’, and my sister said ‘I know which one id rather be’ - meaning of course that she’s happy to be the pretty one. That made me think she is both aware of this ‘perception’ of us and sees it as some mark of superiority that she is the ‘pretty one’ which is why it upsets me when she infers that she’s not perfect - so clearly I am far less perfect
Join the discussion
Already registered? Log in with:
Please login first.