Recently, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal that examined the difference in the level of attention that identical and fraternal twins receive. The reporter, covering the annual twins festival held this past August in Twinsburg, Ohio, wrote that the “festival exposed an inferiority complex that lurks in the world of twins. Some fraternal twins and their parents think identical twins have all the fun.” According to the article, fraternal twins feel “shafted” and even “cheated” by their zygosity.
Huh? Do identical twins really have more fun than fraternal?
As the mother of fraternal twin boys, it never occurred to me that my sons’ identical brethren were having more fun. In fact, I’ve always thought the exact opposite. As fraternal twins, you can have your cake and eat it too, as it were. You have all the advantages of twinship—a close, life-long bond and friendship—but none of the annoyances that identical twins must endure throughout their lives–those inquisitive stares from strangers as you pass by and the barrage of annoying questions like, “Can you feel each other’s pain?” or “Can you read each other’s minds?“ But the article claims that identical twins get to wear matching outfits, win more roles in TV and film (both twins can play the same role thereby circumventing strict labor laws), and are courted by scientists for research studies. Fraternal twins, on the other hand? Not so much.
I’m still not convinced.
First of all, let’s consider the source of the information. The reporter is gathering her quotes of despair at a twins festival, a mecca for multiples who seek attention and want to be recognized for being a twin. Come to any public school or park and interview the twins there, on the other hand, and you just might get a very different take.
Or, maybe it’s just my family as we’ve never been comfortable in dressing our twins alike. Nor have we ever thought it was a good idea to push them to audition for TV shows or commercials. (Please! Have you seen what Hollywood does to child actors?) Being the test subjects for scientific experiments, however, does sound like a good time to my two computer nerds. But there are a few studies out there that want to probe into the lives of fraternal twins as well. Just not nearly as many.
Yet if you really want to push the issue and make the distinction as to who has more fun, I’d have to say that opposite-sex twins win, hands down. Think about it. Their level of rivalry is minimal from birth as boys and girls are usually drawn to different sports and after-school activities. Furthermore, when it comes to friendships, opposite-sex twins have far fewer friends in common than both same-sex identical or fraternal twins. In other words, opposite-sex twins rarely have to share a best friend and the conflicts a triangle like that can sometimes create.
And talk about fun! Who has it better in high school than boy-girl twins? Not only is their dating pool a large one as each twin can casually scope out their cotwin’s friends and acquaintances often in the privacy of their own home but research shows that most boy-girl twins learn to be comfortable around the opposite sex sooner than their single-born counterparts (and probably sooner than same-sex twins, too).
Fraternal or identical. It sounds like fun all the way around to me.