Sarah contacted me asking if she could have her sister join her in the interview after I left a comment on a Facebook group looking for volunteers. I said yes, and we decided to meet at a park on campus. Without any further delay, I introduce you to Sarah and Lauren, from Oregon.
Sarah is wearing a club dress, even though it isn’t her usual style, because she feels that people around her associate her with being more sexual. We sit in a park at the heart of the London School of Economics, where the sisters are getting a master degree, respectively. Sarah and Lauren are twin sisters, and they want to talk about how popular conceptions of what its like to be a twin has shaped them. They feel that they have been forced, or rather encouraged (Sarah corrects me), to fit into polar roles. People around them tend to exaggerate differences between them, and usually focus on the negative so if one is more, the other one has to be less.
They tend to be placed in different categories, Sarah is more athletic and Lauren is seen as being more intellectual. Within their family, Sarah has always come across as more adventurous but Lauren is closer to her mum. Sarah and Lauren also have a younger sister, Megan, who is a great source of support for Sarah.
Among Sarah and Lauren, they tell me they crash sometimes because they have different sets of values and interests. Sarah is more interested in gender as an academic field, however Lauren is not as interested in it as much.
When she reflects back to how she became the woman she is, Sarah believes that the categorisation of their personalities started during their early childhood. She mentions that sometimes they feel they have a forced individuality to proof that they are different. Not everything in her life is a struggle, though, because they value traits in each other and respect each other mutually and love each other. Now, the two live together in London and their relationship has been strengthened during the course of their respective masters.
Sarah likes to travel and to have her own independence. In fact, when Sarah travels she feels that she can be just herself, just Sarah.
Sarah feels very comfortable with who she is. She says that being compared constantly has put her in a position where she has learnt to be comfortable with herself at all times.
In the future Sarah wants to keep studying and go onto a PhD or into law. What I believe we can learn from Sarah’s and her sister’s experiences is that we, as a human collective, like to tag people. I know I am not making a ground-braking discovery here (feminist academics have been screaming this at at us for decades), although it is necessary to learn to see people for who they are, and not for who we want them to be.