When identical twins are children, they’re often nearly impossible to distinguish – identical twins “switching places” have been a frequent joke in many TV shows. Because twins often look the same, or very similar as children, many people assume that identical twins will age similarly, or continue to look the same even as they age.
However, in a series of pictures of identical twins over 50, Chinese photographer Gao Rongguo illustrates the effect that differences in activity or lifestyle can have in the aging process of people who are, at least in terms of DNA, exactly the same.
While some of the twins in the series still look nearly identical, others have significant differences – weight, wrinkles, sometimes even height. The twins in Rongguo’s photos face each other, to create the illusion of looking into a mirror. The slight differences in appearance of people who are identical twins “gives the impression they are staring into some sort of warped reflection.”
The saddest, yet simultaneously most moving photo is the one of the twin who’s brother has died, and he’s staring out into empty space. Perhaps this is illustrating the strength of the bond shared between twins – when one is gone, there is an empty space where they were.
Ultimately, Rongguo’s photo series demonstrates that perhaps your environment and habits influence aging as much as your DNA, as even two people with identical DNA can age completely differently.