This Thanksgiving break, I went to visit my family in Webster, New York. We do this every year, making the six-hour drive from Annapolis to the upstate NY area, right on the edge of Lake Ontario. It’s beautiful, and it’s cold. Apparently, I am also cold, because I find it really difficult to connect with my cousins, even though I love them to pieces (as you can see in the photo above).
As you can see, I am the only dark-haired child in my generation. This in itself wouldn’t bother me, but the rest of my cousins are all also slim, tall, and practically perfect in every way. In contrast, I am short, round, and a bit of a disappointment (but we don’t talk about that in front of the family). My mother doesn’t seem to understand why I am afraid to be around my cousins, and likes to get on my case in empty hallways about why I don’t get up early during break and spend all my time around my skinny, well-groomed family.
All of them are very kind and accepting and loving; it is mostly in my head that I am being judged for being fat and ugly compared to the rest of my family. I just feel like I take up much more space, eat many more servings, and talk so much louder than everyone else, and I get the side eye from my mother at the dinner table for taking a small piece of each type of pie (but it’s pie!). My aunt tries very hard to involve me, and stands by me even when my mom is agitated.
Is it strange that I feel like such an outsider in my own family? We only really see each other once a year, so shouldn’t I try to “get involved?” I just find it very difficult to not compare my body to those of the rest of the family members in my generation.