Family Storytelling

But Are They Identical?

It’s not a question you expect to hear when you have identical twins. Yet it’s one of the most common questions I get from people who have actually met my kids.

”Are they identical?”, uttered in a musing tone, like the person has been pondering it for a while and finally summoned up the courage.

Isn’t it obvious, either way?

To my eye, my two boys always looked different since birth. There was no doubt, until we left the hospital after a week’s stay. Because everyone else kept mixing them up, I feared that one day, I too would wake up and not be able to tell them apart. A nurse told us that some parents of twins put bracelets of different colours on them.

And so, once at home, I ended up cutting an old t-shirt and making a blue anklet for one of the boys. His name almost rhymed with blue and that was how we remembered which one had the blue anklet. Now I could imagine this turning into an endless thing, with strings tied to my fingers, hastily scribbled iPhone notes and illegible post-its here and there, a reminder of a reminder of which one it was given to. But we didn’t forget which one had the anklet and I didn’t need it in any case. He wore it for the first few days, or perhaps a week. They always looked different to me.

Later on, to help daycare teachers tell our kids apart, we tried another tip from the never-ending list of twin parent life hacks. In addition to not dressing them identically, we took them to get different haircuts. The boys looked adorably cute getting their hair professionally cut and styled into two different-lengthed daddy-haircuts, and the barber gave them lollipops as we left.

A while ago, I was walking behind two teenaged girls when it struck me that they were dressed entirely identically. It seemed their strict, teenage fashion sense only approved of certain carefully selected items. I assumed they were classmates and probably not related, but from behind, they looked identical.

Now fashion is an interesting story. People express their inner selves with clothing, but it still seems like a sort of uniform to me. The more unique the look, the more of an armour it is – a shield, a statement of confidence. I belong to this tribe, and not that, don’t you dare confuse me with them. Then there are those who, like those teenaged girls, desperately want to blend in and belong.

A while ago, a page in an ad print caught my eye. It was a free magazine sent to me by a department store I used to like. It said,

“Fashionable children follow the trendiest brands and get inspired by the styles of celebrity children.”

I could hardly believe my eyes. How early do they want kids to start following influencers on social media and have self-doubts about their looks? The children in the photos were about 3 to 6 years old. The toddlers and barely-preschoolers were dressed in ugly-on-purpose clothes and colours, a trend I’ve never understood. The clothes were ridiculously priced. It’s in the eye of the beholder.

Yes, my twins are identical, but if you pay attention, I’m sure you can tell them apart.


40 replies on “But Are They Identical?”

About identical twins I read something interesting the other day. It’s not an uplifting story, but a guy was tried for rape and althought his DNA was found on the victim he denied the fact, accusing his twin brother instead. Now there was additional evidence but the guilt could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt. Untill scientistst managed be able to find tiny differences between the accused guys DNA and that of the innocent twin brother. So, apperently the DNA of identical twins is not identical. But beside all this, I’m very sure a mother and father instantly will know the difference(s) between their twin-children. Oh, and you are right about fashion! When I was a teenager I wore jeans, a jeans jacket and shoulder long hair (quite pretty if I may add 🙂 ) and I thought I was unique, Well…. not really. 🙂

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Oh yes, I’ve heard about that. Pur genes are continuously evolving and mutating, both in the womb and after birth. So DNA indeed is individual, as are fingerprints, while genes are shared. It is rather fascinating.
How funny it is that the teenage delinquent look is not really that original though the point of it is to be rebellious!

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Is it a business model that drives marketing to young children, as an untapped source of sales, via their parents?
My kids had hand-me-downs and run around clothes, and one good set of clothing for special outings. Practical. They couldn’t care less. That was the boys. My daughter on the other hand, was hypercritical of her clothes even at kindergarten, aged 4. I could not believe a child could be so picky about clothes at that age. I don’t know if she had a sense of what she liked, or whether she was influenced by kids at kindy. Perhaps it was both. She certainly developed her own sense of style and strong preferences as she grew up.
I love that you as a Mum could tell your boys apart instantly. A Mother knows her children. My daughter had twin girls in her class from playgroup to aged 12 and I still never figured out which one was which name, but I could see differences, especially in personality.

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Like your kids, I had a random selection of practical clothes as a kid, and I didn’t really care for fashion much. But I must admit I love buying cute/cool clothes for my kids – but only if it’s a good price. I always buy on sale or with coupons or 2nd hand. And from that, I choose cute and practical stuff – practicality above all. Our kids here need so many items of clothing because we have 4 seasons and last autumn’s stuff will be small in the spring (even if you buy them a size or two larger). Either small or completely wrecked! It’s amazing how little boys manage to get holes in every pair of pants in no time!! Fancy brands don’t attract me at all, but I do look for quality outdoors wear. To put a twist on it, my boys are quite particular about what they wear! Like your daughter.


I’ve had several friends who were identical twins. All girls actually. (Étrange…) Many people confused them, I never did. I think it’s a matter of focusing.
Now, “influencers” for toddlers. Yuk… Ça va mal…

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Yes, it’s a matter of focusing. I get annoyed at some of the daycare workers who spend more time with my kids than I do and still they can’t be bothered to memorise who had which clothes in the morning. We have even labeled their clothes so it would be quite easy to check which kid is which. But it’s just a job for them.

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If I got something from a department store with that “Fashionable children” quote, I’d be tempted to cut it out and mail it back to them with a note that I would never again set foot in their store even if it was the last one on Earth. it’s borderline child abuse in my opinion.
As to telling your twins apart, I’d be hopeless, having trouble remembering peoples names and faces. I’d do better when they’re older and driving, unless they had identical cars, since I mostly ID people by the cars they drive!

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Identical twins are fascinating, but I have to believe that they aren’t carbon copies of each other. Young kids don’t need to know about influencers and the latest fashions for their age groups. I realize the point of influencing kids is so that they’ll bug their parents to buy certain things, but when it comes to clothes that seems weird. Don’t kids just naturally lean toward one style or another without being told to do so? Perhaps I’m naive on this point.

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Yeah, I don’t think 3-year-olds should follow influencers or will be asking for a certain type of clothes. The idea of idolising celebrity kids makes me sick. Celebrities are like monarchy – on a pedestal, inexplicably, and people continue to feed them…

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I have younger twin brothers. They are not quite identical though, resemblance definitely. There’s this theory that fraternal twins tend to run in families. My grandmother’s siblings are twins too. 🙂 The ads, well it’s just horrible I must say, unethical even as kids at that age couldn’t even distinguish right or wrong. This ad only encourages the need to possess materialistic things. Booo.

When I was young, the only celebrity influence that worked was getting the “same” celebrity haircut that does not cost any more than a normal hair cut. 🤣I know right, lame! Hahaha

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Yeah, that ad turned me into a non-customer in no time. It was just so distasteful and tacky. And just not the way to advertise kids’ clothes to mums: mums will buy their kids clothes anyway, coz they need them (in this climate), so the sales arguments should be more about the clothes’ protective qualities… As for celeb haircuts, I never heard of such a thing! To this day, the only one that comes to mind is the “Rachel cut” in the 90’s – I love(d) Friends but I never understood what was so special about Rachel’s hair! Still don’t get it! I guess I’m not much of a trendsetter, haha.
Oh and twins, cool! Are twins over there very well behaved or do things escalate quickly? 🤪

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Nowadays the ‘sales’ argument is about making higher profit, not much about the quality and practicality. 🙈

Celeb haircut was a thing here in the 80s and 90s. Not “Rachel” kind of cut, but it’s the Hong Kong celebrity hair cut. Haha, they were very popular and had a high influence among teenagers at that time, especially the ones with short hair style!
My twin brothers, they are not the same personality wise. One is well behaved, the other the opposite 😜😅😅🙈

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It’s funny – when people have twins, they want to dress them differently and when they don’t have twins, then sometimes they dress the kids alike (at least till the time kids have not grown up enough to start complaining about everything the parents are doing “wrong”) 😂.

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Sometimes twins aren’t identical yet they look very alike (at least at first glance). I think that’s why when presented with twins, people ask if they are identical or not. (It could be also because they do see the differences and aren’t sure if it’s just them or if everyone notices.)

I’ve met a few twin sets in my life and always found that I am able to tell them apart just fine but others not so much. I think it’s a matter of wanting to see the differences. Some just don’t care enough (or don’t find it fascinating as I do).

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I agree with you that some don’t care to tell twins apart: they just aren’t looking properly. It’s the same people who will miss a beautiful sunset or full moon and stare at their phone instead…
For some reason, I’ve known a lot of twins in my life and currently do, too. Telling them apart didn’t become importany until now: when you pick them up from daycare, you want to know which one banged their head or made a new friend. Unfortunately, sometimes the teachers are unable to say which one it was. If only one of them needs medication, it can be a bit of a problem… not to mention telling them apart to support individuality

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Your article on identical identity is so good. I am an identical twin. I grew up with monotonous identical repeated questions such as, “Which one are you?” and “Are you twinnys?”. Also repetitious comments like, “You are so alike! I can’t tell you apart!”

Even though I loved my sister—I hated everyone, always presuming our thoughts and actions were alike and conjoined in everything we did.

I wish you individual happiness with your boys ❤️🧡

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Thanks for commenting and I can somehow imagine very well what you’re saying. Luckily, in my neighbourhood there’s a surprisingly large amount of twins around my kids’ age, so I’m hoping they’ll be treated just as normal kids when they go to school. I know some twins who already at this age are feeling sad about being mixed up with their sibling. It seems a bit insensitive, but I’m sure people don’t mean it in a bad way… I guess as a grown-up it’s much easier to be an individual. (Though I do know two pairs of twins who chose the same workplace…)

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