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One day when I was a youngin, my mom overheard me say to my little sister, “You’re a DUMB BABY.” This was very out of character for me and I think my mom might have had a heart attack right there on the spot. I was an extreme goodie-two-shoes growing up and was always overly sweet to my sister. When my parents pressed me for details, I confessed that I had picked up the phrase from Angelica Pickles, the H.B.I.C. of Nickelodeon’s Rugrats. Angelica was a super bossy and, apparently, super quotable Queen Bee that every girl in my school seemed to worship. My parents didn’t want me to say things like that anymore, so they told me that I was no longer allowed to watch Rugrats.
Instead of throwing a fit or planning to watch the forbidden behind my parents’ back, I did something no normal kid would do: I agreed. I agreed that Angelica was a bad influence and I agreed to stop watching the show. My friends at school were shocked that I would go down without a fight (and some are still horrified to this day that I wasn’t allowed to watch Rugrats because apparently that is a huge life event that I missed out on), but I shrugged it off because I never even really liked Angelica that much. I was a good girl at heart and I related to like-minded characters like Eliza Thornberry and whoever this chick was way more than I could ever relate to Angelica.
My preference for good girls took an extreme turn when the Era of Tween Twins began. The Mary-Kate and Ashley franchise, Tia and Tamera on Sister Sister, Zach and Cody from The Suite Life, Annie and Hallie in The Parent Trap (aka Lindsay Lohan x2) — the twin-spolsion on TV and in movies was unavoidable. I watched the twin shows religiously and constantly picked favorites, the “good” twin inevitably winning my favor in the end.
Twin shows often play off the whole “oh, we look the same but we’re totally opposite!” shtick; at first glance it might seem orthodox that I handpicked the “good twins” to be my role models, but as a young girl at an age when many children begin their angsty rebellion, I was definitely in the minority. Most children prefer the spunkier twins because they tend to be more fun than the boring, uptight ones. My preferences for Ashley, Tia, Cody, and Annie became really intense because I was on a mission to prove everyone wrong, that the good twins were the best. What follows is a glimpse into my childhood logic.
Check out this picture. Mary-Kate (on the left) is clearly a wild child. With Lizzie McGuire-esque hair, an endless supply of bangles, a thumb ring (!), and a sassy Chinese character on her necklace, there’s no way a tween could get any edgier. (I’ve studied Chinese for four years and I now know that the character on her necklace means “love,” BUT STILL! It could have meant anything!) Ash, on the other hand, took the safer route, the road more travelled, fashion-wise: a classy headband, a high neckline, glasses placed firmly on the bridge of her nose, as they should be. Mary-Kate is also much sassier and provocative with her posing than Ashley, as evidenced here and here. M-K straight-up can’t be tamed, and I absolutely wanted no part of that.
As for Tia & Tamera on Sister Sister, it’s hard to dissect their good girl/bad girl roles in terms of style since they had an affinity for wearingidenticaloutfits, but no matter — personality is always key in choosing the right twin to worship. The show’s Wikipedia page says everything we need to know:
"[Tia] is honest, responsible, and mature. Tia is a straight-A student. She graduates from high school at the top of her class and she had aspirations to go to Harvard University, but was rejected, and attended University of Michigan instead…. Tia is often involved in many of Tamera’s schemes, and Tamera sometimes has Tia to pose as her, usually to have Tia take a tough school exam in her place.
[Tamera] is Tia’s total opposite in terms of personality. She is highly impulsive, and less intellectual than her sister, and a big fan of Coolio.
First of all, Coolio? No thanks! Flip to track 10 on that Vanessa Carlton C.D., please! And anyway, why would you ever want to like the “less intellectual” twin? I mean, I guess Tia didn’t live up to her full potential because she didn’t get into Harvard, but still. No competition here — Tia is hands down the better twin."
I was definitely a real buzzkill when I watched these shows with my friends, but it didn’t matter to me. I probably convinced exactly zero of them that the “good” twins were way cooler, but that didn’t matter either. Nothing mattered as long as I had my well-behaved twin spirit guides to lead me along the way.
Over time, though, the twins and I all grew up and shed our goodie-two-shoes reputations, little by little. Tia Mowry did a naked pregnant photo shoot. Ashley Olsen may or may not have actually killed a Wookiee for fashion. Cody (Cole Sprouce) now has a sassy Instagram account in which he takes pictures of fans trying to sneakily take pictures of him. Annie from The Parent Trap grew up to be a Mean Girl. So did Eliza Thornberry. As for me, when I was in eight grade, I defied my parents and made a Facebook account when I wasn’t allowed to. Minor transgressions aside, I doubt I’ll ever fully cross over to the “bad girl” side, because even though I’ve grown up, I know that deep down I’ll always try to channel my inner Tia and keep Angelica far away.
Reprinted with permission from The Jane Dough.