Stealing identity: There are too many of us

Published April 19, 2012, in MSUM’s, The Advocate

One evening, as I was behind the counter in the small store where I work, a man perusing the mall saw me and had to take a second glance as he entered the store. “Are you Brandy?” the man asked.

“Well, I, uhh, no,” I stuttered out the response.

“Oh, okay. So your name isn’t Brandy?”

“Nope. Actually, I’m Meghan.”

“Oh, well you look just like her!”

He mistook me for Brandy. I don’t know who Brandy is, but I temporarily stole her identity.

It’s annoying looking like other people when you’ve never seen them. Identity brings out our pride for individuality, and when someone else steals our “look,” body, personality, face or various styles of what we or other people have dubbed as our trademark, it can be frustrating.

Four years ago, I was cloned. I must have been. There have been sightings of my supposed self at various locations, including Papa John’s, on campus — specifically in MacLean, and probably a party or two. It’s always at a distance. She is my phantom. I have never seen her myself but numerous friends and acquaintances have.

“Meghan, I saw you at Papa John’s the other day when I was driving by,” a friend once told me.

“That’s funny because I’ve never been to Papa John’s.”

Or, sometimes a friend has been walking on campus, yards behind “me.” They’ve called out my name, only to get the cold shoulder from “me.”

“Thanks for not saying, ‘hi,’ to me the other day, Meghan.”

Once, an old high school and college classmate accused my asthmatic self of smoking and began telling others about my new, un-Meghan-like behavior, only to find out I wasn’t even on campus that day (phewph).

Unfortunately, he’d already spread the news to various other classmates, including his impressionable 7-year-old sister.

My appearance, at least from the back, is no longer easily distinguishable. My hair, the biggest giveaway, is no longer my own. I share an outward identity with a woman unknown. She could rob a bank without a ski mask and everyone would blame me. This could be life-altering.

But, it probably isn’t. It’s been said that everyone has at least one person in the world who looks almost identical, and apparently, one or two of mine just happen to live in the same town and attend the same college as I do. How convenient.

This replication, though I’m sure, only outward, is — as stupid as it may seem — a hit to my individuality (and we all know how Americans, especially, pride their individuality).

However, there is a time of the year when looking like someone is celebrated – on Facebook. “Find your celebrity doppelganger” is a week where you are encouraged to not only look like yourself but a well-known person much more “important” than you are in the world. If no one has ever informed you that your smile looks like Angelina (“You have big lips like that woman who stole Brad from Jennifer”) or your eyes are brown (“Like that Clooney guy”), don’t fear. There are online face recognition programs that can help you find a look-a-like you can (hopefully) brag about. On, for example, you can create a “face collage” of your celebrity “look-a-likes,” but whether they actually look like you or not is another story.

It’s less than complimentary when they ask you to upload another one of your pictures because “no face (was) detected.”  Perhaps my bangs were overtaking my face again. Maybe no one looks like me, but clearly, that’s not an issue.

After my first failed attempt, I finally got my results. As I did when I used this same site years ago, my results came back with many Japanese and Korean starlets. I also was told I bore a strong resemblance to a Bond girl named Izabella Scorupco, Aretha Franklin, Mina Sorvino, Oliver Stone (my second highest match) and Barbra Streisand. I certainly have an amazing ability to display several varying looks at one time.

If you are disheartened by your own results and aren’t lucky enough to get a match like I did with Oliver Stone, it’s going to be all right. All you have to do is use another picture. Believe me; you’ll get different results every time (though I’ve gotten Hilary Duff more than once).

Yet another means of procrastination is available for us.

Doppelganger is a term of German origin. It literally means “double walker.” According to, it is “a ghostly counterpart of a living person,” a “double” and “alter ego” of a person and “a person who has the same name as another.”

Doppelgangers originally signified misfortune and were representations of evil. According, “In instances of bilocation, a person can either spontaneously or willingly project his or her double, known as a ‘wraith,’ to a remote location. This double is indistinguishable from the real person and can interact with others just as the real person would.”

In modern terms, “doppelganger” can refer in a lighter fashion to any look-a-like of a person, so the meaning is less ominous. So, don’t worry about being a celebrity’s “doppelganger.” This doesn’t mean you are a harbinger of death and disaster. They usually bring it on themselves.



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