Eva Kaminska, 32 (below left), a pianist from Hendon, north-west London went to drastic lengths to be the same size as her sister, Egle, 28. Here, she shares her story
‘Standing alone on the other side of the bar, I watched my sister Egle flirt with a crowd of men and my whole body flinched with envy.
With her bodycon dress showing off her slender size-eight figure, men couldn’t get enough of her. But who’d want her fat older sister, hiding in the corner?
As much as I loved my baby sister, I couldn’t help but feel envious that she’d inherited ‘skinny’ genes. As we grew older, it was driving a wedge between us.
We had an age gap of just three years, and were close when we were young. Egle and I did everything together, from singing lessons to shopping. We’d always looked alike, too.
But when I hit my teens, I rapidly gained weight. Not wanting to be different from my sister, I carried on eating the same sized portions as she did, served up by my mum, Loreta, 55, a teacher.
By the time I was 18 and 5ft 7in, I tipped the scales at 13½st. Secretly, I hoped Egle would follow my lead, but she could scoff a fried breakfast followed by cake and not put on a pound. She had an amazing figure with long legs and a tiny waist. It seemed so unfair.
I became jealous of the attention she got from men. I started to socialise with curvier friends instead, and would refuse to stand next to her in photos.
I had to get dresses custom-made, as shops didn’t sell the latest trends in size 20. By June 2002, my self-esteem was on the floor. Having completed my degree in performing arts at university, I ballooned to a size 24 and a whopping 17½st after comfort eating my way through exam revision.
I was constantly single and, seeing Egle date a string of men, decided my weight was holding me back. After a consultation at a health clinic, I started the blood group diet, where you eat specific foods dependent on your blood type.
For my blood group, type A, breakfast was fruit instead of bacon and fried potatoes, pizza was traded for porridge at lunch, and fatty takeaways were replaced with fish and veg for dinner. I ate dangerously few calories a day, and invested in regular colonic irrigation treatments and lipo massages that promised to break down fat cells.
Within six months, my weight had dropped to 10st. I was working as a professional pianist and singer, and could slip into size-12 evening gowns for concerts. On the outside I looked amazing. But did I feel it? Not one bit.
By June 2003, I was finally a size eight and just 8½st. I thought I’d be happy, but all I could see were my imperfections – like the tiny roll of flab that hung over the top of my jeans. I experienced mood swings and piercing headaches and constantly felt agitated and forgetful.
I was always hungry and food controlled my every thought. At night, I’d lie awake unable to sleep for the gnawing hunger and I’d eat slices of lemon in salt to suppress my appetite.
Friends and family who saw my weight loss were overjoyed for me. I couldn’t bear to reveal how miserable I felt – especially to Egle. She assumed that I was happier thinner, because that’s what I’d wanted for so long. But in fact, I felt like a failure.
That summer, I started dating Peter* 38, an actor I met at work. “You’d look better with a few extra pounds on you,” he said on our second date. He didn’t mean it as a compliment, but I took it as one as it proved I was skinny.
I thought losing weight would make me more confident in bed, but I didn’t feel sexy. My boobs shrunk from a 38DD to a 32D and I had to wear a push-up bra to feel attractive. It’s no surprise the relationship fizzled out after four months.
The next four years were a blur of dieting. My obsession with my weight overshadowed everything else. When I sang a solo at a big concert in 2004, I wore a beautiful snug-fitting gown, but felt so weak that my voice crumbled.
By March 2007, I’d reached rock bottom. I was constantly exhausted and emotional, and confided in Egle that dieting was destroying my life. She was shocked when I confessed I’d always felt in competition with her – and that this was spurring me on to stay slim.
Egle was supportive. She said no diet was worth that much pain and that I was beautiful whatever my size. After our chat, I quit the diet. I wanted my life back.
I felt guilty for eating substantial meals again and, within months, had piled the pounds back on – but at last I felt like myself. I started socialising more and my musical performances improved.
In March 2008, Egle and I moved in together and we’re closer now than ever. My weight has plateaued at 15st 7lb. I try to eat healthily, but when I open the fridge and see Egle’s chocolate cake, it takes all my willpower to resist.
Of course, I still wish I was slimmer. Most size-18 woman do. But I’d rather be larger than miserable. Last summer, I secured a modelling contract with Tesco’s F+F clothing range, which goes up to a size 28. I’m still single, but I’ve had more attention from men than ever before, because I’m more confident.
Part of me will always be envious of Egle but, ultimately, it’s our differences that make us who we are. I’ve stopped comparing myself to her – and finally feel comfortable in my own skin.”
Egle says: “As sisters, Eva and I have shared so many experiences together, and it was hard watching her struggle with her weight because I couldn’t empathise and felt helpless. I’m lucky that I’ve always had a fast metabolism and haven’t had to think about my size.
When Eva lost weight, I was so happy for her. But I had no idea how miserable she was, or that she was starving herself to be the same size as me. When she eventually opened up, I couldn’t help but feel guilty. I knew we’d grown apart, but had never understood why.
Now I’ve got my sister back again, and I couldn’t be happier. Eva used to think the gene pool wasn’t fairly distributed, but the funny thing is, I’ve always been envious of her bubbly personality and pretty face. Size definitely isn’t everything.”
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