Their view: Twins share bond beyond appearances

Kirsten Hudson

On the first day of at least one class every semester you get the teacher that wants to get to know you. The one that makes you tell four things: Name, year, major and one interesting thing about yourself. The last question always seems to be the trickiest part. Yet my answer is easy; it’s the same every time. I am a twin.

Upon learning this information, the class as a whole usually gives the same response. Every pair of eyes in the classroom bore into my face. Collectively thinking, I suppose, that if you stare hard enough you might find some tell-tale sign showing my twin-liness. Usually it just makes me feel like I have an extra ear.

The staring I’m used to. It’s not uncommon when my sister and I meet someone new for them to stare for a good two minutes, eyes constantly shifting between our faces, then inform us that, “Your right eyebrow is higher than hers.” The only part that usually bothers me is the inevitable question, “So, are you identical or fraternal?”

The question mostly bothers me because I just don’t know; we were never told officially whether we were identical or fraternal. Unlike what is commonly thought, identical doesn’t simply mean looking exactly alike and fraternal doesn’t just mean looking different. I will explain.

According to Dr. Gerard M. DiLeo of, the primary difference is that identical twins come from the splitting of only one fertilized egg, while fraternal twins are two babies from two ovulations and two fertilizations. You can only tell twins are identical if there is one sac, but they can still be identical twins if there is two sacs and two placentas. Fraternal twins must have two separate sacs and two placentas. Thus only identical twins have the same DNA and therefore usually look more alike.

So there you have it, identical twins come from one egg, fraternal from two. If you really want to ask me the details of what went on in the womb well, go for it, but if not, just ask if we look alike. It’s more polite.

The other reason this question bothers me is because the looking alike doesn’t matter. It isn’t looking like her that makes me feel like a twin. Our physical similarities don’t matter when it comes to knowing there is some weird connection between us.

What makes me feel like a twin is a look passed between us that communicates, “Wow that girl with the sweatpants capris, Ugg boots and plaid winter coat looks ridiculous. Do you want to go get coffee after Spanish?”

It’s playing Cranium and knowing that her drawing of three lines and a squiggly mark is supposed to be a penguin. It’s seeing who can get the words out first because we both know we’re thinking the exact same thing. Being a twin is knowing that no matter what else changes in my life, she will always be constant. Not the fact that we look alike.

But if you must know, she’s an inch taller and has a freckle on her right cheek.

The above column, by Kirsten Hudson, appeared in the University Daily Kansan (U. Kansas) yesterday.