02 August 2013

White People Look Alike

This picture was taken on the day that Angel declared to be blue/Smurf day. In case you can't tell us apart: Angel, Me, Rebekah, Mom, Anna, Sarah, MaryGrace, Dad. I have one brother and one more sister, not pictured.
We never knew till we moved to Malaysia that it was hard to tell white people apart because they look so much the same, but this is a phenomenon we've been experiencing for the last 9 years, and it doesn't look likely to change now.
The problem seems to be that not only do the members of our family look so much alike that we're often mistaken for one another, but we also get mistaken for completely different Caucasian families in our area. This has led to many a funny story. For a time, there were 3 tall, skinny, brown-haired white men living in our general location, one being my Dad, and two others being not even remotely related to me, and these three men were often mistaken for one another. Occasionally, I'd be at the mall with my friends, and they'd say, "Hey, Rachel, there's your dad." I'd look, and say, "Umm, no, that's not."
The confusion seems to have become stronger and not weaker as the years have gone by. When we first moved here, we were all growing up and were completely different sizes, so that made it easier to tell us apart. Now that we're older, there are currently 4 of us sisters in the approximately 5'5"-5'7" height range, with slim figures, pale skin, and dark brown wavy/curly hair. Not only are there 4 of us, there's our Mom, who could be described similarly. During my few weeks here, I've already been greeted by several people who seemed fairly convinced that I was my sister Lizzy, who currently lives in Israel. And I'm pretty sure that the older lady who exclaimed in shock over how skinny I've gotten might have thought I was my Mom. 
Our friends, neighbors, and the aunties and uncles we interact with at market and at shops around town know our family. They never give us any reason to doubt their affection for us, though sometimes we wonder why it's so hard to remember who is who. Then again, I do recognize that we give them a bit of a challenge: A family of 9, with six daughters, a whole lot of names to memorize, and we probably do look a little more alike than the average family. (Funny, everyone always knew exactly who Isaac was.)
I just got my family started watching Downton Abbey, and I was shocked at the results. My 16 year old sister Anna insisted that she couldn't tell most of the characters apart for the majority of the first season. To her, (And Downton fans will understand how crazy this is), Lord Grantham looked just like Carson, William and Matthew were completely indistinguishable from each other, and Lady Mary, Lady Sybil, and Cora could have been triplets. And this is the same girl who can keep all the dozens of characters in the Korean dramas that she watches straight. 

Either it's all in what you're used to looking at (Do Malaysians find it hard to tell us apart because there are fewer Caucasians here and do Caucasian Americans find it harder to tell Chinese people apart because they don't see that many of them on a regular basis?).....or else my family bears exceptional resemblance to one another.


  1. oh my goodness you do all look alike!! I hear the same thing about my sisters and I but I think yall look way more alike than us.

  2. That is so funny. You all do look like you have the same smile : )


  3. this is kind of funny because there has always been the stereotype of all asians/hispanic/african people looked alike. so i always wondered if other cultures thought all white people looked the same. i guess this answers my question. :)

  4. Cute picture. you have such a fun family!!

  5. when I started watching downton, I got mr bates and carson confused with each other! really you and your sisters definitely do look alike. I forget if you already told me - what is lizzy doing in israel and where does she live there?

  6. You had me at the title! That's what they say about black people. :-D Ha ha! Growing up mostly around whites (which was fine with me), we got the "oh you look like so and so!" (another black person unrelated to me). There is no offense taken. I think it's kind of funny! BTW- Cute picture!

  7. It really is such a crazy phenomenon! In Taiwan people always were getting my family confused with other families. :-)

  8. That's such a cute family photo! I don't think you look too alike, but I would probably mix you up a lot if I met ya'll in person! I could NOT tell Carson and Lord Grantham apart for the longest time!
    xo, Hima
    Hima Hearts

  9. Such a cute picture! I can see how people could mix you up...but I can see the differences pretty easily too.

  10. I love the idea of a smurf day! Although I'd probably go for more of the snow white dwarves look because then I wouldn't be able to just wear jeans. I'd love to have a big family but I hate it when people say I look like someone else- um, I'm just me!

  11. Wow! You guys do look a lot alike! I'm sure you're onto something with your theory about why we can't all tell one another apart - we're just not used to it!:)

  12. Love the family picture! Y'all look great!
    New follower from Monday Mingling! Looking forward to following your blog!


  13. I have to say you guys do look alike but I don't think it's that alike. I think it all depend on nationality and where you are. Like if you were state side, I don't think that problem would be as hard.

    Thanks for linking up with Weekend Reads. Hope to see you link up again.

  14. Yeah, this isn't a problem in our family (the one I grew up in, not just Ryan and I, haha). My younger sister has auburn hair and a square face, I have brown hair and a round face, and my older sister has red hair and an oval face. My younger sister looks a little like both of us, but if I'm with my older sister, people don't think we're related. She has my mom's complexion and I have my dad's, she's got my dad's nose, and I have my mom's. I've got my dad's eyes, and she has my grandma's I think. She has a wide mouth, I have a small one, etc etc on down the line...

    However, if we open our mouths, we sound alike. There is a strong gene for voice on my mom's side of the family and to people who don't know us well, my mom, her three sisters, and my two sister and I all sound exactly alike on the phone!

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