Yes, it's this old picture again...
Those of you who have been following me here for at least the last couple years know about how this picture and how it imprinted itself on my psyche over the last 40 years. It's from an Avon brochure from 1974, more precisely, as part of an ad campaign for a skin care line called Perfect Balance. I first saw it back when I was 4, way back in the day(I go into detail here: siamesetwinsfan.deviantart.com…
), and, at the risk of being redundant, it began my lifelong obsession with Siamese twins(I actually prefer the term "Siamese twins" to "conjoined twins"... I've never thought of myself as politically correct). Although I've harbored some kind of obsession with Siamese twins since then, I kind of put this picture out of my mind for several years after first seeing it, coming back to it, at least in my mind, in the mid 1980s(1984, to be exact), and ever since then, it has at least occupied a space in the back of my mind. I do recall a dream I had back in 1986, which involved seeing the women full-body, instead of the head and shoulders view in the picture. I recall in the dream, they were joined merely at the shoulder blades(for some reason, I imagined them joined from shoulders to waist), and they were wearing black strapless bikinis. In that dream, for some reason, I don't recall them wearing the headscarf they wear in the picture(for some reason, I remembered them each wearing a separate headscarf, and they were tied together at the bottom).
I'm not going to go into detail on how I finally found this picture, mainly because I already covered that particular subject in a previous journal( siamesetwinsfan.deviantart.com…
). What I really want to get into here is a couple of random memories related to this picture, both involving my mother, one directly, the other indirectly. The direct one is when I showed it to her, and asked about them, she said something about if one of them wanted to eat dinner, and the other wanted to go to bed, the one who wanted to eat dinner could eat dinner in bed. The other memory, the one which indirectly involves my mom, is a short-lived recurring dream I had for a little while in the mid 70s, in which my mom and Shirley Partridge from the Partridge Family were Siamese twins(don't ask, I can't explain it either), I actually recall one time when I had that dream that they glued themselves together with a very liberal amount of Perfect Balance skin cream(It's funny how some days I can't remember what I had for breakfast, but I can remember a dream I had almost 40 years ago...).
What I also want to talk about is questions I had over the years about this picture. Finding this picture, of course, answered one question. When I received the first Avon brochure I ordered on eBay, it showed the picture, albeit cropped just above where their bodies were joined, and I almost convinced myself that I had "just made it up in my mind" somehow. However, when I found the auction for the lot of brochures including the campaign in which the Perfect Balance line was introduced, even though the picture was too small to see anything(even when magnified), I saw enough to know exactly that was what I was looking for, and my heart did skip a beat. Believe me, that 2 week period from when I placed my bid to when I actually received the lot in the mail was a very long 2 weeks. So when I actually held the brochure in my hands, and could see the picture for myself, the question of whether it was actually real or made up in my head was answered. However, finding this picture has, believe it or not, raised more questions than it answered. The first, and most obvious, is how they made the 2 women in the picture appear to be joined back to back. When I was 4, I didn't think about that, as far as I was concerned, they were joined. I have actually had someone tell me it was Photoshopped, which I know isn't possible, due to the fact that the picture predates the creation of Photoshop by more than a decade. I was also told that they took a photograph of one woman and mirrored it, which I know is also untrue. There are differences between the two women in the picture for it to be a mirrored image. The differences I found were as follows:
- The twin on the left is slightly taller than her sister(this is what I consider the most obvious difference)
- the knot at the bottom of their shared headscarf is asymmetrical
- the twin on the left has a longer and slightly more slender neck
- the angles in which each sister's neck meets her shoulders are different
- the twins have differently shaped eyebrows
- the twin on the right has a more pointed nose, as well as a slightly less prominent chin and more rounded lips
- the sister on the right seems to be looking forward, while the sister on the left seems to be glancing slightly towards the camera
- the twin on the left has her mouth open slightly, while the twin on the right has her mouth closed completely
- the twin on the left's eyelashes are slightly longer
- the twin on the left may be wearing a slightly darker shade of lipstick
- differences in the sisters' jawlines
(Of course, those are only my own observations, You might see it a little differently than I do)
Another possibility I have heard, which also subscribes to the theory that it's one woman portraying both twins is that they took a picture of the woman from both sides, and combined them using whatever passed for photomanipulation back in 1974. Even accounting for the fact that nobody is completely symmetrical, there are enough differences between the twins that I believe that there were actually 2 women used for this photograph. I believe that the models were made to appear joined by some combination of a prosthetic device, makeup, airbrushing, photo retouching, photomanipulation as it existed back in the mid 70s, darkroom trickery, ink, and/or paint, as well as the fact that instead of a photograph, the picture is in reality an extremely lifelike painting. Of course, while highly unlikely, the fact that they actually found a pair of Siamese twins joined back to back does fall within the realm of possibility.Of course, when I was 4, I never thought about stuff like that, as far as I was concerned back then, they were Siamese twins.
Another question I have concerns the headscarf the twins are wearing in the picture. The picture, as I remembered it all those years, had each twin wearing a separate headscarf, but both scarves are knotted together at the base of the neck. I also recalled the scarves as being plain white, and not a single silk scarf with what appears to be a floral pattern. The major question I have concerning the headscarf is its purpose in the picture. The most obvious purpose is that it's there to make the twins more closely resemble the logo used for the Perfect Balance line, which resembles a female version of Janus, the 2 faced god of Roman mythology. Aside from that, I thought of several other possibilities of why the twins are wearing it:
- to conceal the fact the models are in fact not identical twins
- to conceal the fact the models have different colored hair, or that one or both models are bald
- to make it appear that along with being joined back to back, the twins are also joined at the back of the head
- a style choice made by the models and/or the photographer
I have tried to find the answers to my questions, I first contacted an Avon archives, but they didn't have any of the information I asked for, in fact, the only items they had pertaining to the Perfect Balance line were a couple pictures of products. I knew it was a longshot, but I did contact Avon directly, but wasn't too disappointed when they told me they didn't have the information I asked for, because I pretty much knew they didn't and I was only asking so I could say I at least explored that particular avenue. But I know the answers I seek are out there somewhere. That's part of why I put the picture in this journal. Please, if anyone reads this, and knows either or both of the women in this picture, please don't be shy, comment or send me a note.