What Is It Like to Be a Mirror Image Twin?

“Are you guys twins?”

A very common and valid question I am often asked. I mean, I understand the fascination and curiosity that develops when you see two people who look exactly the same. Most people look and then do a quick double take. When they realize that they are not hallucinating or tripping and that there are actually two of us, they walk over and ask that question.

My sister Dylan and I are identical twins; we are a copy paste of each other. Our experience, while normal to me, is radically different from others. People ask, What’s it like to be a twin? I always respond, what’s it like to be a single child? I know no difference. Being an identical twin is a huge part of my identity, and ultimately allowed me to grow into an individual while being born into a duo.

having a mirror image twin is so cool. (Photo Credit: Madison Grabow)

Not only are our genes identical but we grew up in the same home with the same parents

My sister and I have a very unique relationship. Having an identical twin is truly having someone be the other half of you. Our DNA is 99.9999999% the same, and we grew up living across the room from one another. In the nature v. nurture debate, identical twins break every rule, as we have the same genetic makeup, and were raised in the same environment.

This results in two, very similar, identical looking girls named Madison and Dylan. Growing up we were very close, but of course had natural sibling rivalry and competition. There was constant comparison from one twin to the other: which twin was better at this sport, which twin excelled in this subject, etc.

We were in the same grade at the same school, had the same friends, and did the same after school activities. I remember one time I was in the running for a solo in my chamber choir performance and every member voted for who they wanted to sing the solo. The other girl won by one vote, and the vote was my sister Dylan. I was heartbroken, as sad as a 6th grader who wanted a solo in the winter concert could be, because my own sister didn’t vote for me.

My sister and I have a very unique relationship. (Photo Credit: Madison Grabow)

Our mother taught us that having an identical twin is really special

My mom sat us down, and told us a lesson that has stayed with us for the rest of our lives. She told us that we needed to be each other’s cheerleaders, and reminded us how special having an identical twin is. We root for one another, and lift each other up, as we are the closest, and most important friendship in each other’s lives.

From that silly, jealous 6th grade moment on, we have been each other’s biggest support and confidant. Dylan is the first person I call when I have exciting news, need someone to cry with, and every small moment in between; when I leave our apartment in the morning I immediately text her and will be texting her while I am in classes during the day, even though I just saw her before I left, will see her when I get back, and spend the rest of the day with her.

It is a very unique relationship, maybe bizarre and unfamiliar to the twin-less. Having someone who really is a personified other half of you. If my other half is hurting, my heart aches. If one twin needs help, the other immediately is there.

My mom, sister and I were on a trip in a foreign country and I ended up getting very sick. I had anemia at the time and my hemoglobin levels were very low, and I needed blood. Without hesitation, Dylan volunteered to donate blood to me. That is the type of relationship we have. We fight and are there for each other.

Even rarer my sister and I are mirror image twins

This past year I was having some personal issues, where people were being rude and disgusting towards me, but Dylan stood up for me. When I was too upset to stand up for myself, Dylan was my voice and stood up against something that was hurting me. She had my back, and stood up for me when I couldn’t get up myself.

More than just being identical twins, Dylan and I are a part of a very small group that makes up about 25% of all identical twins, known as mirror image twins. This may sound like satire, but I promise it is 100% true, and kinda crazy. Mirror image twins have certain features on one twin that appear on the opposite side for the other twin.

For example, I have a freckle on the top of my left ear, while Dylan has the same small dot on her right ear. Even freakier, as kids, when one of us would lose a tooth on one side of our mouth, the other would lose one on the opposite side. Pretty cool, yet kinda freaky stuff.

I have to debunk the twin telepathy theory

While on the topic of freaky twin powers, we have to discuss and ultimately debunk the “Twin Telepathy” theory. We do not send each other magic twin signals or share thoughts, contrary to what conspiracy theorists may say. However, we are so similar, that sometimes we will say the same thing at the same exact time. Like the time in first grade, when we participated in a school-wide Dr. Seuss Day. Dylan and I were in two different classes, but engaged in the same reading centered, fun-filled activities. At the conclusion of the day, each student had to describe reading in one word. Most kids in our respective first grade classes described Dr. Seuss Day as “fun” or “bad” or “nice”, typical of a 6 year old’s limited vocabulary.

However, when my sister and I got into our mom’s car at 2:30 pm when our school day ended, my mom asked to see our projects. She asked us if we did them together, and we said no. She was shocked, because to her surprise, independently, in different classrooms, we both described reading as “stupendous.” Just another small, yet substantial coincidence when we showcased some twin-ness.

Sometimes, Dylan will even say something out loud that I was thinking about inside my own head. I wouldn’t call this twin telepathy, maybe just great minds thinking alike. But, I do see and understand her emotions when she is upset, or angry. People often falsely think that if one twin gets hurt the other twin feels it.

I also have to debunk the myth that if one twin gets hurt the other feels it

I, sadly, will have to debunk this rumor, but can attest that if she is feeling any particular emotion, I know her well enough to be able to tell and help her. This isn’t due to any supernatural twin powers, but the bond of identical twins, and knowing her as well as I know myself. While Twin Telepathy may not be a real, scientific phenomenon, the bond between identical twins sure is something unique and so special.

One thing that an identical twin may struggle with is finding one’s own identity when born into a duo. From birth, identical twins are paired together. Our identity is being an identical twin, and defines the journey of our lives, being raised with someone at your side, through every experience and life milestone.

This is a magical thing, when a bond can be so incredibly strong between two people, and is the most pure, truest friendship in my life. However, being an identical twin can sometimes jeopardize having one’s own identity. Having to find out who you are, separate from your twin can sometimes be troublesome. I reflect on my life and realize that I have rarely been alone, every single stage of my life, Dylan was there.

Being an identical twin sister is who I am

Every sleepover in middle school, every flight from New Jersey to Phoenix, every morning drive to Dutch Bros. While sometimes I find myself questioning who I am as an individual separate from my twin sister, I have grown to realize how special it is to have someone there. Instead of questioning and doubting, I see myself as Madison, an identical twin sister to Dylan. Being an identical twin is who I am, and has made me into the person I am today.

While we are similar in looks and personalities, we do have some minute differences that tend to be key in telling which twin is which. The most commonly used tactic in differentiating between Dylan and me is the two small freckles on my cheek diagonal to my lip. Those two freckles are markers into who I am. When I am having a conversation with someone, their eyes will linger to the freckles quickly before saying any name, to make sure they know which twin they are talking to.

We don’t get offended when people can’t tell us apart

I do not get offended by this, as I totally understand how confusing the idea of twins can be. I am not good at telling other twins apart myself, so I can’t be annoyed or upset when someone calls me the incorrect name. This may sound a little strange, how can a twin not be able to tell other twins apart? Well, just because I am a twin myself does not give me special twin differentiating abilities.

Dylan and I both work at a sleep away camp during the summers and Dylan has two campers that are identical twins too. They are the cutest, sweetest 10 year old girls that look EXACTLY the same, to everyone except for them. They claim we look so much more alike than they do, which got me thinking. Dylan and I think we don’t look alike, (I mean within reason obviously there is a strong resemblance).

But I see differences between us that I believe makes us look slightly different. To the rest of the world, we look like clones of one another, a copy paste of one face. Sometimes, I will downplay or not recognize how cool being an identical twin is. To me, it is just my normal life; there is someone who I have grown up with and live with that I look exactly like. To everyone outside of my twin bubble, it is profound and crazy to see two people sitting next to one another that look the exact same.

When we ask if we are twins we always answer kindly

When people ask ‘are you guys twins?’ We always smile and answer kindly. Could I be annoyed or frustrated after being asked that question at least 4 times a day? Yes. But, I have grown to realize how people are brought joy and excitement when seeing twins. Like today, when my sister and I were at the airport flying from Newark to Phoenix; the TSA agent at security did a double take on us, realized we were twins and smiled so big while tapping the other agents to show them.

People immediately smile and are enamored of twins, and being able to bring a small piece of joy to someone’s day is so special. There is something cool about seeing the same face twice.

Being a twin is a unique and beautiful thing; the relationship between us is stronger than most. To the world, we are two girls who look exactly the same, but inside that is the truest, most pure friendship in the world. The mirror image of me, my other half.

More Great Reading:

Everything I Know About Sisters, I Learned From Raising My Daughters

About Madison Grabow

Madison Grabow grew up in Woodcliff Lake Jersey with her twin sister Dylan (21) and younger sister Zoe (17) along with her parents Elissa and Jon Grabow. Madison is currently a senior at the University of Arizona studying Film & Television and has dreams of starting her career in sports and entertainment post graduation. She loves traveling, has an obsession with music festivals and loves reading romance novels and writing.

Read more posts by Madison

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