Taylor Muhl grew up obsessed with all things twins. From playing with dolls to playing with her friends, everything was about twins with Taylor. She would frequently ask her mother if she had a twin, as it turns out not only does Taylor have a twin, she is her own twin.
Taylor is a 33-year-old model who has been diagnosed with genetic Chimerism. Chimerism occurs when one fraternal twin absorbs the other in utero. A chimera, in medicine, means that a person has two different types of cells in their body, which is why a chimera would have to come from fraternal twin absorption and not identical. There are only around 100 confirmed cased of chimerism in the world today, leaving it undiagnosed in many cases. Taylor for instance only discovered she was a chimera when on the television she saw a baby with the same two-toned stomach as her.
Sometimes chimeras will have patches of skin that are a different color from the rest of their skin, not only is the skin a different color but; “I have two different immune systems, and I have two different blood streams. My body treats my sister’s DNA and cells as foreign matter and wants to get rid of them, but it can’t.” Taylor said of her condition.
Having two immune systems can cause some odd problems for Taylor, she has allergies to certain metals only on one side of her body. She also suffers more flu than other people since as her two immune systems fight each other, they leave her as a whole with fewer defenses.
Taylor and other chimeras need to be aware that their condition can cause abnormal test results, so it’s important that every time they see a doctor that they explain their condition. Once a doctor is aware of the condition, it is simple to adjust for it and end up at the correct test result.
Taylor, who used to do everything she could to hide her two-toned stomachs is now showing it off to the world. “I had always kept my stomach a secret, covering it up or having photographers Photoshop it out, but now I want to embrace the way I look. I want to inspire people to feel beautiful and confident with their difference.”
“After all of these tests we discovered – and this is crazy – my immune system is as low as a cancer patient, but I’m not ‘sick.’” She is, however, allergic to nearly everything. After being tested for 150 different allergens, only a handful came back negative. Shellfish, she says is the only thing that seems to give her life-threatening symptoms, the rest cause varying degrees of discomfort. So, she says, “I do a rotating schedule in terms of eating and drinking so as to not expose myself to too much of anything at one time.”
How does she handle it all? Well, she says, as holistically as she can. “I was raised very naturally and because my body is so sensitive to medications, unless I’m really, really sick, I do things holistically. That’s what really, really helps me. I have to eat all fresh organic food. I have to juice multiple times a week. I’m taking tons of supplements. I’ve been a dancer for twenty years. So, I’m very into exercise, which helps. I do have to be on birth control because of endometriosis, which is terrible for autoimmune issues because birth control lowers your immune system. And I do suffer from horrible migraines. So, I will take an Excedrin if I have to.”
Her coming out had another interesting – and personal – benefit as well. Always one to look on the bright says, Muhl explains, “When I went on the Doctors show it was like – I’m free! Now when I date a new guy I don’t have to worry about telling them anything like that I wear hair extensions because my hair has gotten so thin because of the auto immune issues.”
Of course, plenty of judgment and rejection followed her appearance and coming out as well. But even that didn’t faze Muhl. She’s glad she made the leap out into the public eye. “It feels freeing even though the negativity can be scary at times. It doesn’t matter what you do in life, people are always going to judge. Family judge family. It’s just life. And if you’re doing it publically, it’s going to be magnified. I’ve gotten an overwhelming amount of stuff and nasty stuff as well. You really do have to know that that person is where they are and they are entitled to their opinion.