• Thu, Jan 16 - 3:10 pm ET

How Do People Grow Up Without Older Sisters?

sisterIf I ruled the world, I would demand that all girls have sisters–older sisters to be precise. I would also enforce rules banning the existence of: pimples, calories, inequality, black olives, war, nonalcoholic beer, and Miley Cyrus’s tongue. (Yes, I’m well aware that this is completely unfeasible, in case you questioning my sanity. Because if I could actually rule the world, you would all be invited to my wedding to Ryan Gosling.) This reasonable command is based on the premise that everything my awkward ‘tweenaged self needed to know, I learned from my older sister.

Let me give you a very brief rundown that could not possibly include everything, but attempts to anyway:

My wardrobe/fashion faux pas
Although I can’t take back other forms of humiliation, including but not limited to my platform wellies, ruffle tops, and purple overalls, she did save me from several potentially major fashion disasters throughout my childhood. She completed said task through the personal sacrifice of trial and error, like her attempt to make ‘pleather’ happen. Also with her denim on denim on denim (yes, they once made denim kitten heels) ensemble she frequently wore to middle school dances. Furthermore, via the kind of brutal honesty only an older sibling can justify, I recall words like “heinous,” “embarrassing,” and “disgrace,” to which I am forever grateful.

Sex
So. many. questions. I cannot imagine a childhood (pre-wifi) without the comfort of having an older sister to answer my ridiculously curious and naive inquiries: “you mean you’re not supposed to blow?” a bewildering concept considering the name. “What other numbers have sexual implications?”

Recover from heartache
She said nothing. There were no inquisitions as to what happened, no unnecessary questions referring to my well being–fully knowing, no, I’m not okay—no hasty, judgmental, useless morsels of advice; just hours of silence, open arms and cookie dough. “Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary,” she’d finally said, urging me to focus solely on that which makes me extraordinary. Plus, she actively enforced the expiration date for my pity party of self-loathing and chocolate consumption.

Never settle
She’s like a third parent, always pushing me (school, career, love, life) with ridiculously high expectations, so endearing and completely annoying.

Everything in between
To always bring an extra pair of underwear.
There are valuable life lessons in “Full House.”
When creepy men ask where you’re from, lie, but make sure the place actually exists.
Do not buy a dog until you’re fully prepared for the commitment.
The art of the practical joke.
To never order pancakes with chocolate, they always end in regret.
How to properly down a tequila shot.
What cigarette’s taste like and how to inhale, proceeded by a lecture as to why they are disgusting.
An abundance of survival guides for all math classes.

I actually have two sisters, an older and younger (high five to middle children) and while ostensibly this is an ode to the former, I am equally as grateful to the latter, the baby. While undoubtedly they are my very best friends, my future M.O.H.’s and qualify as favorite-contacts on my iPhone (RIP speed dial), it also hasn’t been 25 years of pure sibling bliss. Insert years of hair pulling, button pushing, boyfriend stealing (a memory intended to be forever banished–I shall add to my ruler of the world to-do list) and tattling, much like anyone with siblings can attest to. And to validate that I’ve successfully learned as much as possible from my older sister, a case in which ah-ha the student has become the master, here’s a picture of one of her denim outfits (circa 8th grade):

Don't hate me.

Don’t hate me.

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  • Samantha Escobar

    I grew up with two brothers who I love very much, but I wasn’t particularly close with them until adulthood. I always wanted a sister to be added to the mix :( Fortunately, I had a next door neighbor whom I’ve known since I was 2 and also love very much and treated like a sister, but she had an actual sister of her own and I was always pretty jealous.

    In short, I’m still jealous. And probably still a little kid.

  • Cee

    I would have LOVED an older sister to guide me!
    I’m 10 years older than my sister and tomorrow shes coming over my apartment to fill out college applications, ask all kinds of cool questions and be away from our mum for a bit

  • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

    I AM the older sister in my family, but thankfully I have a kick ass best friend who would lend me HER big sister whenever I had awkward questions. Then I could pass the wisdom onto my little sisters.

    • ted3553

      I too am the oldest of 3 girls but had a friend who had a sister a year older than me and she was SOOOOOO cool (almost as cool as DJ Tanner who was also very cool). I took my cues from her.

  • StephC12

    I’ve got an older brother who I am finally starting to get close to after all these years. I’ve never had an older sister figure in my life, but I’ll always be grateful for my younger cousin who I consider my sister.

  • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

    I LOVE this post so much

  • http://sheisnakedinthekitchen.tumblr.com/ Jodie Layne

    I wanted to like this post, but the grammatical and punctuation errors were too distracting. I understand the need to get a fair amount of content up quickly, but it’s hard to find an article lately without errors.

    • Rosanna

      Oh gosh get a life

  • LiteBrite

    I was the older sister, and frankly I sucked at it, well, that is according to my next youngest sister (who is seven years younger than me). According to the sister who is 11 years younger than me, I was actually pretty cool because I bought her beer when she came to visit. I also told her where babies come from (in great graphic detail) and helped her through her divorce four years ago.

    But when it comes to fashion, I’ve given up. She’s a lost cause.

  • Sherri

    I always wanted a sister! So jealous. I had friends with sisters that I could get my info from but not the same. I tell my husband that I would like two of each gender to (hopefully) avoid anyone being all alone like I was :(

  • Jem

    I think it is great you had this experience, but know that it is not always this way. I grew up with an older sister, 2 years older than me. While I agree with you that I avoided fashion mistakes by watching her make them first (hello!! line of makeup along her jawline because her foundation was WAY too dark) I also was bullied by her. Every request for advice was met with laughter and telling me I was so stupid. Every thing I did, liked, saw, who my friends were was ridiculed by her to the point that even to this day, I am convinced that everyone is secretly hating and making fun of every single choice I make and calling me stupid behind my back. And yes, it stung more because she was my older sister and I wanted to be cool like her. My mom always told me my sister was just being insecure because I was always a lot taller than her, had curves and had natural talent at piano. None of this was any comfort. I also had no other sisters to talk to about anything. (but I do have 6 brothers)

    So, I don’t mean to rag on your experience, and I’m probably just jealous of it. But every single time I hear someone say they just have to have a sister for their child because everyone loves their sister, I want to tell them “NOOO it is NOT always automatically that way”

    • Lindsey Conklin

      Ugh, I’m sorry! I also have friends who have had tumultuous relationships with siblings as bullies :( and I would imagine, like you said that stings even more BECAUSE she is your older sister. my sisters and I moved around a lot, which I think made us closer, but you’re right not everyone has a great experience.

  • meteor_echo

    Oooooh fuck no. Single kid here and loving it – the idea of siblings, older or younger, gives me the heebie jeebies.

    • Benita

      Agreed, I was a happy only child who was lucky enough to have two great parents who gave me a magical childhood.

  • Ddaisy

    I was the older sister, and I was so excited about it. Ever since my sisters (2 and 5 years younger) were born, I was looking forward to doing all of this stuff for them. I spent my entire childhood trying to be the very best I could be so they would look up to me.

    Instead, they thought I was hopelessly uncool and embarrassing, wanted nothing to do with me, and thought I was always judging them. I’m 24 now, and we’re just starting to put our relationships back together.

    I love that you love your older sister so much–I wish my little sisters had. I hope your big sister knows that she is just as lucky to have you, because you are a *sweetheart* to adore her so much! :)