It’s hard to fathom sharing a body with another person, but for conjoined twins Abby and Brittany Hensel, it’s their reality. Lucky for the curious person, their show was featured on TLC along shows such as My Strange Addiction, Little People Big World, Say Yes to the Dress and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. But, Abby & Brittany’s show seemed to be at the top of the list. They have such different personalities and they can sometimes remind us of our own sibling rivalry. The show goes into depth about how they live their lives as conjoined twins but it doesn’t show everything! Here’s everything you need to know about Abby and Brittany Hensel!
As conjoined twins, they share a body but they have separate vital organs. Each twin has a separate heart, stomach, spine, lungs and spinal cord, yet they still have different brains, which comes with different personalities.
Each twin controls her half of their body, operating one of the arms and one of the legs, so they had to learn to walk only operating one side of the body. Talk about difficult! But they’ve been doing it for so long, they make it look easy.
Growing up, learning how to crawl, clap or walk was difficult because they had to coordinate with the other. From this young age, the girls were able to work together to be able to perform tasks that would otherwise seem difficult while only being able to control one-half of your body.
The twins have different distinctive walks. Brittany tends to stand and walk on her tip-toes while Abby tends to walk more flat footed. This may look somewhat awkward, but the two make it work and can walk at a similar distance to other people.
Abby and Brittany’s parents immediately rejected the option to separate the twins because the doctors said it was likely that both would not survive the operation. As the twins grew up, the parents knew they made the right decision because they could live happily as conjoined people!
When they turned 16, they agreed to let TLC into their home to film a documentary about their teenage years and they later got a TV show out of it, which became one of the most popular shows on TLC in 2012.
Together, they are able to walk, run, swim, drive and even ride a bicycle. They can also type on a computer, which would prove really difficult knowing that they can only operate one side of the body each. They just have to coordinate efforts.
In addition to everything else the twins can do, they can even drive a car. Because the twins are two individual people, they had to take the written and driving test twice, one for each twin. When driving, Abby controls everything on the right of the driver’s seat and Brittany on the left.
Because they have really different personalities, it’s sometimes expressed through their clothes. They even get a seamstress to sew different necklines to emphasize their individuality.
Mathematics and Writing
The girls love different subjects, although only one excels in certain fields. Brittany enjoys writing, while Abby works with calculations. It’s like each of their brains operates on either a creative side or a math side.
The twins attended Bethel University in Saint Paul, Minnesota where they both majored in education. After hard work and overcoming adversity, the two graduated from the university together in 2012.
Dreams and Hopes
Abby and Brittany told the Discovery Channel that they hoped to date, get married and have children. But dating has always been an issue for the two girls, even though they have been wanting to get married and live a normal life.
Glimpses of negativity
Abby and Brittany have said that they don’t mind being conjoined twins but they do hate it when people stare at them or when strangers start taking pictures of them without their permission. They understand they’re different, but want people to know that they don’t like being looked down upon.
When they were six years old, they appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, which started their recognition that would eventually become worldwide recognition. After the Oprah Winfrey Show, the two appeared in news shows, documentaries and, of course, their television show on TLC.
It’s important for the twins to have hobbies, but it’s probaly more important for the two to have the same hobbies so they can enjoy them at the same time. According to the two, they are obsessed with playing musical instruments, going bowling and playing volleyball.
Two for Two
Although Abby and Brittany share a body, they always buy two movie tickets when they go to the theater. This surprised many people, but they twins think it makes sense because they are two individual people.
Since they are two separate individuals, one can get sick while the other twin stays healthy! Brittany has suffered from pneumonia twice while Abby hasn’t had it at all. This baffled doctors for a while and still intrigues medical professionals. But one thing doctors concluded about this peculiarity is that the girls have a pair of their organs, such as two hearts and two pairs of lungs.
During their birthday celebration, both girls receive individual cakes and presents. Their parents are not only viewing them as separate individuals but they understand that the two girls enjoy different things, so they go out and get them presents that match their own individual personalities.
It’s tough to coordinate everything together sometimes, and they might not want to sleep or eat at the same time, but in the end, the sisters understand each other like nobody else does, so they sacrifice certain things for each other.
Passing on the generation
Today, Brittany and Abby are elementary school teachers, with an emphasis on math. They said that they like teaching together because “one can be teaching and one can be monitoring and answering questions.”
The twins are in sync now that they are adults. They said that is was difficult while they were younger but they now are able to coordinate with each other much better. They often have to make sacrifices to do an activity that the other enjoys but they both do enjoy bowling and volleyball.
The two want to be teachers so that they can be role models and show others how to have a positive attitude towards life. Their first appearance on TV was in 1996 on The Oprah Winfrey Show. The twins captured everyone’s hearts with their upbeat attitudes and positive views on life.
In conversation, the twins are clearly distinct persons, with distinct likes and dislikes. Their preferences in food, clothing color, etc., differ. Some of their clothes are altered by their seamstress so that they have two separate necklines in order to emphasize their individuality.
The two have let the media into their lives. There have been special series of their story aired on TV about their graduation from Bethel University, their job search, and travels in Europe. Abby and Brittany have earned two teaching licenses. They will only be paid one salary though because the work is technically done by one person. The twins have different body temperatures. Abby usually gets warmer a lot faster. Even though the twins only need to buy one ticket to fly, they still have separate passports.
The twins were born with another arm between the base of their necks. The arm was removed so that the only thing there was a shoulder blade. The twins had said in an interview that they would love to one day be able to date, get married and have children. The two respond differently to coffee. Brittany’s heart rate increases while coffee doesn’t have much of an effect on Abby.
Upon their birth, the twins’ parents decided not to attempt surgical separation after hearing from doctors that it was not likely that both would survive the operation. As they grew and learned to walk and develop other skills, their parents confirmed their decision against separation, arguing that the quality of life for the surviving twin or twins living separately would be less than their quality of life as conjoined beings.
Abby and Brittany have different styles so the clothes that they wear express that. They sometimes wear two different shoes or have leggings with a different color on each leg. The two walk differently. Abby keeps her feet planted on the ground while Brittany tends to walk on her tippy toes. Abby is slightly taller at 5 feet 2 inches tall. Brittany is 4 feet 10 inches tall. Brittany likes to wear neutral colors while Abby likes colors that are more bright and vibrant.
The two don’t both get sick at the same time. Brittany has previously had pneumonia but Abby was not affected by the illness at all. There are only four sets of conjoined twins known to have shared an undivided torso and two legs and survived into adulthood. Many twins like Abby and Brittany have congenital heart defects or organ anomalies. Thankfully Abby and Brittany have not been affected by these issues.
The twins appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show on April 8 and April 29, 1996. In April 1996, they were featured on the cover of Life under the caption “One Body, Two Souls”, and their daily lifestyle was depicted in the corresponding article entitled “The Hensels’ Summer”.
The twins become known around the world when they were 6 years old. The twins appeared on‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ and were also on the cover of Life magazine. The twins at first wanted to pursue different concentrations while they were in college. They ended up attending Bethel University and both majored in education. The twin graduated in 2012 with Bachelor of Arts degrees.
Two two have said that they don’t really mind being conjoined twins. The only thing that bothers them is when they get stared at by strangers or when random people want to get pictures with them.
The twins both have their own drivers license. They had to take the test twice, once for each of them. While they are driving Abby must control everything on the right and Brittany controls everything on the left. The two girls have very different personalities and interests. Abby loves math while Brittany loves to write.
Each twin controls half of their body. Each twin is able to operate one arm and one leg, whichever is on their half of the body. Each one can write on their own, but some activities like running or swimming take the coordination of the two.