Sibling Rivalry or Something More Sinister?

On Monday night’s episode of Tia and Tamera, Tia may as well have pulled up on a pink elephant instead of a white Range Rover in which she hit Tamera with the uncomfortable question that has really been the major unspoken conflict of the show, “Are you jealous?”   It’s no secret that Tia is kinda feeling herself and rightfully so.  She really made a name for herself in the past few years with an independence that Tamera seems to be struggling to find on their Style network reality show, Tia and Tamera.  After landing a starring role on television show The Game (a role that Tamera auditioned for as well), Tia was able to show her fans that she was no longer the syrupy sweet actress of Sister, Sister fame in which the characters’ biggest problems were rogue zits and not making the cheerleading squad. Through The Game, Tia proved that she could still be funny, as well as dramatic in a sexy, sophisticated way.  Funny what some tame profanity and “mature subject matter” can do for a career.   Add on top of that the publicity and perceived maturity that getting married and having a baby can bring and Tia has all the makings of a simmering Hollywood starlet.

Tamera, on the other hand has experienced some success, but definitely on a smaller scale.  She dabbled in a dramatic role-playing Dr. Kayla Thornton on the medical series Strong Medicine.  She shortly returned to the cutesy roles she was known for playing Mona on ABC Family’s defunct Roommates.  But unfortunately besides made-for-tv  family specials Tamera’s career didn’t quite navigate the choppy waters of child-turned-adult actress as smoothly as her twin sister’s did.  Now on their reality show, what I witness is someone struggling for purpose and grasping desperately at anything major that will define her.  Tamera seems all over the place; last season left us with a newlywed Tamera who seemed to have a husband out of nowhere (wasn’t she just dating around on the pilot for this show?) who was re-dedicating her life to her acting career.  This season seems to be picking up with her peddling wine for her new Housley family and recently she revealed that she’s expecting.  It just appears that instead of following her own path, she’s settled for simply following Tia’s example.

Jealousy can be even harder to deal with between siblings since essentially they may feel that by being raised in the same household, with the same DNA, challenges and opportunities, there’s no reason why one sibling should be more successful than the other. It can be difficult when you’re raised with several siblings facing an unexplained pressure to find your role.  Are you the smart one?  The rich one? The rebellious one?  The reliable one?  Jealousy can be even more destructive when it’s shared between blood because you may feel like you all had an equal opportunity so any failures you experience must be of your own doing.

Later in the episode Tamera remarked, “Jealousy is negative energy and I don’t want to be a part of that.”  She mentions she feels that Tia implied that she wants Tamera to be jealous of her and she is hurt that sisters would confront each other that way.  Many viewers have attacked Tia as a self-centered, big-headed bully.  But what I see is the more blunt half of the pair forcing her soft-spoken sister to get uncomfortable with the truth, so that she can become more comfortable with herself.  The truth I suspect is that Tamera seems to be less than satisfied with her life and seems like she’s searching for something.  We all like to believe that we are above jealousy, that it’s something limited to unfaithful frenemies and catty reality show stars.  The truth is, in a world where no one is perfect we all fall weak to fleeting insecurity which may lead us to develop envious feelings towards those who appear to have what we want.

I guess it really depends on how you define jealousy, which the girls take a few minutes to debate about.   Like my deliciously handsome future husband Drake once said, “Jealousy is just love and hate at the same time.”    I always defined jealousy as wanting what someone else has and harboring resentment towards that person because you don’t have it.  Like anger, sadness or any other emotion what matters most is that jealousy is handled in a healthy way or it can be very destructive.  You just have to be honest with yourself when it comes to jealousy.  Even I have asked myself on a few occasions, “Am I hating or is this just really dumb shit?”  If you can’t find a legitimate reason to dislike someone’s situation, then you’re probably  jealous and that’s OK because jealousy can help you improve on your grind.

I kind of agree with both twins’ points of view.  If Tamera is harboring some kind of resentment of Tia’s success, she should just be honest.  If you can’t be honest with your sibling, who can you be honest with?  Sometimes letting those feelings out in the open is more therapeutic than anything.  There’s a certain respect you have to have for someone who can set their pride aside long enough to let someone know they kind of envy their life.  At the same time, jealousy has to be kept in check; when left to fester long enough it can turn into anger or hatred which can make people do some shady shit.

The best defense against jealousy is confidence.  Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and do you.  And to do you, you have to know you; you can’t define yourself through the goals of others.  We all struggle with jealousy at some point or another, but for a long time there was never any room for jealousy between me and my older sister.  A seven-year age difference placed us at polar ends of life experiences make it almost impossible to compete.  As we grow older though, it grows more and more tempting to play “Whose Life is Better Bingo” as we mark off our accomplishments in education, career, and romance. Whenever we argue and I’m feeling particularly spiteful, I fight the urge to go there.  Because the truth is when you have to compete with everyone else in the world, the last thing you want to see your sibling as is an opponent.


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