It's hard enough trying to convince yourself that you're beautiful. It's even harder when that standard of beauty is living down the hall from you.
"When I am by myself, I find myself as beautiful," said Andrea Dyer, "but when I compare myself to others, which would be mostly my twin sister, I find myself comparing all the things that they are better than me in. So recently that has been taking a toll on me."
They are both seniors in high school, but her identical twin sister Amanda Dyer is a minute older and Andrea has always been trying to catch up.
Comparing herself with Amanda has been getting harder. Amanda recently lost weight, and Andrea has been feeling more self-conscious about her appearance. It's been straining their relationship.
"As a twin, people aren't supposed to see the differences within us," Andrea explained. "But you can tell that we're starting to grow apart. And you start feeling inadequate, thinking that someone who's supposed to be the same as you in every way is going to better in the eyes of other people than you are."
A Pair Of Jeans
Amanda has felt rejected because of her weight for a long time. Commercial standards made her feel like everything and everyone was tearing her down. After trying on a pair of jeans at Target that wouldn't fit, Amanda wrote a poem about the feeling of being rejected.
She couldn't fit in, literally and figuratively. No matter what she did, she felt different. She was getting bullied by other girls at school. One of them threw an umbrella at her. "I was just so angry," Amanda said. "I was like, I am so much better than they are. I can do so much better than they can."
But still, she doubted herself. The constant ridicule brought her down. "I stayed inside my shell," Amanda explained, "because every time I did things that made me stand out, it made people look at me."
Things changed on the first day of the school year when Amanda saw her friends after a summer of All City Band, where she marched off over 30 pounds during the school break.
"At first I didn't realize it because I got back to school and everybody was like, 'You look really different,'" Amanda said. "And then I realized, this shirt fits better than it did before. And I looked at myself in the mirror and I thought, did I actually change something?"
You Are Something Great
The new Amanda was unstoppable. But this transformation was unsettling for her twin sister, Andrea.
Both sisters have struggled with different problems that come from the same place: self-acceptance. For Amanda, it’s represented by a phrase she hears all the time: "I've heard it so often that it gets on my nerves. Everybody's always like, 'You've got so much potential, you've got so much potential.' And I just want it to finally be, ' You are something great.'"
And that's where Amanda is now: great, and waiting for her next challenge to come her way. And she knows her sister isn't too far behind. She hopes that Andrea will also discover what Amanda describes in the last stanza of the poem that came out of that fateful shopping experience:
I was an aspiring woman who weighed more than 230
Who still had dreams of inspiring
Like the women who danced along the walls of plus-sized boutiques
And now I've grown into myself
I was still a big, gigantic, growing, and strong woman inside this new body
If you want to weigh confidence, then I am fat
And I can go so much further than any place that rejects me
RadioActive is KUOW's program for high school students. This story was produced in RadioActive’s Spring Introductory Workshop. Listen to RadioActive stories, subscribe to the RadioActive podcast and stay in touch on Facebook.