By Kristy Ramirez
My introduction to the world of twins involved my teeth aching and my already stretched belly giving into showing at five weeks. I had no idea what it meant to have twins or how I would nurse two babies, change two babies, and still sleep again, ever. The only thing I did know from the beginning was that I would not dress my twins in matching clothes.
According to almost every person I’ve met, this is the most controversial decision I’ve ever made. Forget discussing vaccines, birth plans, and nursing. The question that has been hurled at me with the most venom in the last few years is: Why aren’t your twins dressed the same?
These attacks sometimes come from singleton parents who always wanted twins. They know just what matching onesies they’d have brought their twins home from the hospital wearing, and they are concerned that I bypassed the matching going-home ensemble and every matching ensemble after that.
Most often I’m questioned by other twin parents who choose matching ensembles for their offspring. My decision not to take that road is apparently seen as an insult because not one of these conversations has been anything less than strained.
One twin mom approached me and my obviously-identical-twin daughters and said, “I thought for a minute they were twins, but they aren’t wearing the same shirt, so…”
“Yeah, they came from the same egg, so I think that’s good enough,” I responded as she shrugged her shoulders and backed away.
Another twin mom told me that she demanded her children’s clothes be the same, even from those offering her gifts. Though I wouldn’t go as far as to say I demanded exactly the opposite, I told those who offered gifts of matching clothes that both girls would wear them, just at different times.
One mom said her daughters finally boycotted matching clothes when they entered the teen years, and she is still heartbroken and confused that they made this decision. I can’t believe they didn’t boycott until they were teens.
Most individuals do not go around dressed like other people. When it happens by accident and people show up in the same place, it’s considered a fashion faux pas. In the twin world, the strangeness comes from not dressing your kids alike. It’s like opposite day all the time.
While I don’t think it’s wrong to dress twins in the same clothes, I’m concerned about the insistence of people who say it’s an absolute necessity. After arguing with a woman who said my twins have only one soul and one brain trapped in two bodies, I’ve come to see the clothes conversation as a veiled form of the same thought process. Why are people bothered by different children wearing different clothes, unless they don’t view them as different children?
The benefits of my girls wearing different clothes are many. People have a hard-enough time telling our kids apart. We had a hard time telling them apart in the beginning, and knowing who was wearing what piece of clothing on any given day kept us from mixing up our kids.
People are also more likely to treat them like individuals when they dress differently. Already viewed as a unit, I work to offer them every possible opportunity to be viewed as unique, separate beings. One way to do that is to use their clothes to create a visual cue that they are, in fact, two different people. Dressing them differently is a reminder that not all things about them are alike, either on the surface or deeper in their personalities and emotions.
When I hear people tell me I’m doing a disservice to my girls by having them wear different clothes, I’m left with the sinking feeling that despite the prevalence of twin births, people still don’t understand that twins are not anomalies to be studied or forced into identical behavior.
Yes, twins are fascinating. My girls used twin talk for months and do tons of the unexplainable twin things that everyone is fascinated with. However, they are also very different humans who are forging their own paths.
Observers will always notice that my girls are twins. I want to help people focus on the aspects of who they are that are different. I use their different outfits to help with this process. It’s not mean. It’s not an issue for my daughters. It is, however, a major stressor for those who believe being a twin means matching jumpers for life.
About the Author
Kristy Ramirez is a mother of four who writes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, grocery lists, and love letters. Her work has appeared online in Literary Mama, Mamalode, and SheLoves Magazine, among other places. She is working on her first novel and writes about life at Livesinprogress. Follow her on Twitter.