The role of a little sister living in the shadow of a big sister's intimidating fame is no easy burden to bear.

For the younger sisters who step into the same professional landscape as their siblings, their success will always be measured against their elders, whose career will becomes a ruler against which all success is measured.

These are the Solanges, the Ashlees, the Danniis, Noah Cyruses, and the Ali Lohans.

If it's not their album sales, it's their acting ability, their weight, their romantic prowess, their fashion sense, their hairstyle, their ability to rock a given hairdo, their relationship with their parents.


The modes on which two siblings can be compared are endless, the grades are infinite, the marks always being given.

But even within a healthy family structure, sister relationships are complicated clusters of love, pride, envy, guilt, jealousy and admiration.

Non-famous families often struggle with sibling rivalries; arguments about favouritism and jealousy are uncomfortable and common truths.

The pressure to make it in the entertainment industry is enormous, and siblings who delve down this career path together often have complicated relationships coloured by struggle — rivalries, competitiveness and conversely, protectiveness over one another and deep understanding and loyalty.

Miley and Noah: Big sisters love to give advice

Noah Cyrus and Miley Cyrus attend the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards. Photo / Getty Images.
Noah Cyrus and Miley Cyrus attend the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards. Photo / Getty Images.

Advice from big sisters can be easy to give and difficult to take.

Fame seems like the hyperventilating, never-ending, hormonal stress-out of high school, on steroids, but in an 'adult' version of the world that becomes your life forever.

Going to high school with your sister is also often not the greatest blessing, as sisters often vacillate between close friendship at home and independence in public.

Last year Noah Cyrus was included on Time's 30 Most Influential Teens of 2017.


It's a list put together for teens who have clout across numerous social and public platforms and have achieved great success before they hit their twenties.

The littlest Cyrus was doing well carving out her own emo-pop career with stand-alone singles and collaborations with hip hop artists like XXXtentacion and her recent ex-boyfriend Lil Xan.

Of growing up with a famous family, she has said she was trained to keep certain parts of her life private.

In a 2016 interview with Billboard, Noah said that Miley had given her advice on dealing with pressure on social media scrutiny of her public life.

"She told me to not look myself up, ever. I've turned my comments off on Instagram.

I think that was the best thing I could have done."

But as her relationship with Lil Xan came to an end, the advice from her big sister seems to have been forgotten.

The teenager and her 21-year-old ex have traded a series of hyper emotionally and barbed Instagram stories, posts and memes.

The screenshots are strange and teen and sad, including weird personal interludes and, well, bathroom breaks.

Lil Xan posted a video of him apparently urinating on a framed copy of his platinum single 'Betrayed', also alleging Columbia Records set up their relationship as a PR stunt.

Columbia has denied the allegations.

Ashlee and Jessica: The media are not welcoming to little sisters

Jessica and Ashlee Simpson were reality TV darlings in the 2000s. Photo / Getty Images.
Jessica and Ashlee Simpson were reality TV darlings in the 2000s. Photo / Getty Images.

A little sister's foray into stardom is often met with unfair suspicion.

Faltering steps in the path of your older sibling means a foot put wrong is followed by a great deal of media attention and public schadenfreude.

Ashlee Simpson had a successful debut album Autobiography in 2004, which went triple platinum in America, going on to sell over five million copies worldwide.

Ashlee also starred in her own reality show in the lead up to her first album release and marketed herself as a pop rocker.

A de jour at the time, her Avril Lavigne-esque look and sound sat well in the pop narrative while contrasting starkly to her sister's own career.

In the mid 2000s, Ashlee's look and sound was a rebellion against her blonde, Christian big sister, herself a child star.

She was a rock'n'roller, the anti-Britney, anti-Christina, anti-Jessica, anti-blonde antidote.

Her album features the track Shadow that confronts her upbringing with Jessica, who had been a child star, with lyrics about, "living in the shadow of someone else's dream".

Ashlee, singing ostensibly about her sister and her home life, wails, "she was beautiful, she had everything … it was so hard just being me."

Striking out on her own seemed the littlest sister's main goal, but just two months after the release of her album, Ashlee's breakout was forever dampened by a live SNL performance where she was caught lip synching.

The rebellious narrative was remade into one of a manufactured pop star. Talentless. Hacky. Tacky.

The singer was mocked and at further public performances she was met with booing crowds.

Her follow up album was labelled a commercial failure as it failed to sell a million copies.

At the time, Simpson blamed the incident on various illnesses, collapsing at times from exhaustion, and fingering an 'acid reflux' problem. She now refers to the lip synching misstep as, "Something that happened to me."

A 2017 Huffpost revisionist history of Autobiography praised her debut album, but was harsh of her overall career, saying, "[Ashlee] Simpson's career was born out of pure nepotism.

Not to say she wasn't talented, but it's likely her pop career would never have happened without her sister."

li and Lindsay: Fighting for attention

Lindsay Lohan and her little sister Ali were both child stars. Photo / Getty Images.
Lindsay Lohan and her little sister Ali were both child stars. Photo / Getty Images.

Being the little sister of Lindsay Lohan is likely a relationship that is, to say the least, labour intensive. The starlet's problems with drugs, the law, her mum, her dad and her career continue to careen at terminal velocity into their third decade in the public eye with no sign of abatement, despite her moving continents and changing careers.

Ali herself is no stranger to press scrutiny, and refers to her own dealings with it as transforming her into a kind of "Iron Woman".

Aliana Lohan spent some time at the tail end of 2016 promoting her music career.

Trying to hype her 'Western-Emo' releases, she said: "This is what I wanted to do since I was eight years old."

But before the story was filed on Cosmopolitan, her big sister Lindsay had stolen the show. Over in the Greek island of Mykonos, she'd thrown a blow out thirtieth birthday party for herself, split from her businessman fiance and accused him of physical assault.

Lindsay told fans during a live video chat that her own music releases were on hold because of her sister's musical endeavours.

She cited competitiveness, or something in that sister-y vein, saying, "as much as I want to sing every day, I don't want my sister to hate me."

Ali didn't directly respond to questions about this, saying people "got it twisted".

Upon requesting a follow up interview, the journalist was politely told, "Aliana definitely doesn't want to breathe life into Lindsay's personal happenings," by her little brother Michael Lohan Jr.

Ali Lohan starred in her own reality show at age 14, with storylines about trying to break into show business with her mum Dina, who herself has struggled with alcoholism and her own abusive partner.

During the height of Lindsay's Hollywood fame, Ali signed with Next Models and Wilhelmina Agency, and appeared on the cover of FAULT Magazine. From her teenage years she has been criticised by tabloids for being "too skinny".

"I've never done therapy in my entire life," she says.

"Nothing against therapists. I think it's extraordinary what they do for people. I just, I have a deep sense of faith and spirituality, so I think that's my grounding."

Beyoncé and Solange: Things can get unprofessional

Solange and Beyoncé Knowles are extremely close. Photo / Getty Images.
Solange and Beyoncé Knowles are extremely close. Photo / Getty Images.

Growing up with another person provides an insight that is at once enlightening and confronting — while stars often are protective of their privacy and court a manicured public image, sisters can be the wedge that undoes tightly wound narratives around perfect relationships.

Beyoncé was famous from a young age, performing in her group Girls Tyme in her native Texas. Solange was placed in therapy at the time to help her cope with the pressure of her sister's growing success.

Their mother Tina Lawson said, "It was tough, she was five years younger than Beyoncé and Beyoncé was the little superstar in our city … I was very sensitive to the favouritism."

Despite growing up together, Beyoncé's monumental success has meant that their life experiences have been divergent.

Solange wrote an op-ed about racial attacks she experienced while attending various concerts, including having garbage thrown at her then husband and child in the same month she released A Seat at the Table.

Solange still refers to Beyoncé as her "kick-ass" older sister, circumventing the public narrative of the curated, private, public image control freak.

Control freak or not, the relationship is one embraced by both sisters, who remain deeply loyal to one another despite their differing narratives and at least one embarrassing public spray.

Think Solange punching Jay-Z in an elevator after the Met Gala, loosely acknowledge by the family to have been a "dual responsibility", and an isolated incident.

In the following years since the event, Beyoncé and Jay-Z have publicly acknowledged his infidelities, the two renewing their vows and saying the first ten years of their relationship was based on falsities.

Jay-Z acknowledged the event as a one off, saying he feels "protective" of Solange.

Dannii and Kylie: comparison is not your friend

Kylie and Dannii Minogue have gone down different paths to success. Photo / Getty Images.
Kylie and Dannii Minogue have gone down different paths to success. Photo / Getty Images.

In the Minogue household Dannii was the child prodigy.

All acting, singing and dancing, she was cast in Young Talent Time at age ten and continued on the show for six years.

At age 12 she had her own Dannii Minogue fan club.

Her next role was in the beachy soap Home And Away, but her sister Kylie took a role on the rival show Neighbours as Charlene, and would wed her on-screen flame Scott to 20 million viewers.

Kylie's debut single I Should Be So Lucky spent five weeks at number one in the UK and solidified her as a household name in Australia and overseas. Dannii's music career did not flounder — she signed her own six album recording deal worth $5.42 million.

Dannii Minogue has had a long string of number one singles on the dance charts.

She is a stage actor who has starred in Macbeth and The Vagina Monologues.

It's a lengthy career without controversy.

But her X Factor co-hosts, like Sharon Osbourne (who is famous for being Ozzy Osbourne's wife), and Louis Walsh, have not been shy in questioning her credentials, positing that she possibly has none beyond being Kylie's sister.

During this period, Kylie came to Dannii's defence, telling Ellein 2009, "I'm so proud of my sister and it annoys the hell out of me when comparisons between us are made … She was on TV every week from 7 years old. It makes it harder for her when she gets Louis Walsh's rather pathetic jibes — one of which is she hasn't had a hit record and that's just not true."

"It is hard to be compared all the time to Kylie," Dannii said in an interview in 2003, "On the other hand, however, people will always try to compare you to somebody.

"Look at Britney and Christina."