National Look-Alike Day

a set of twins for National Look-Alike Day

April 20th is National Look-Alike Day, a day dedicated to recognizing and celebrating look-alikes. 

Have you ever been stopped on the street and been mistaken for a celebrity? I have!

Well, kind of. And I wasn’t on the street, I was waiting tables. 

One of my customers said I looked like Cybil Shepard. I guess…maybe?

When I had long hair in college and dyed it strawberry blonde, I’d get Nicole Kidman a lot. Yes, I was tall like her but lord… I was def built with a little bit more meat on my bones. LOL

But it was fun… as is this day!

This day is alllll about celebrating people who resemble celebrities, fictional characters, historical figures, and even everyday people. It’s a fun day that encourages people to embrace their doppelgangers and appreciate the uniqueness of each person’s appearance. 

So let’s talk about look-alikes and how we can have some fun celebrating this day!

A Brief History of National Look-Alike Day

National Look-Alike Day was founded by the Pittsburgh area crime reporter, Jack Etzel.

Jack Etzel was a prominent radio and television reporter in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during the 1950s and 1960s. He is best known for his work as a crime reporter, covering high-profile cases in the city and earning a reputation as a trusted source of information on criminal justice issues.

Etzel began his career in journalism in the 1940s, working as a reporter and editor for various newspapers in Pennsylvania and Ohio before transitioning to radio and television. He worked for several local news stations in Pittsburgh, including KDKA-TV, WTAE-TV, and WIIC-TV (now WPXI), covering a range of topics but specializing in crime reporting.

Etzel was known for his distinctive voice and his ability to get the inside scoop on criminal cases, often breaking news before anyone else. 

Etzel retired from journalism in the 1970s and passed away in 2000 at the age of 78. He is remembered as a trailblazing journalist who helped to shape the field of crime reporting in Pittsburgh and beyond.

In the 1980s Jack was searching for a fun and entertaining story and decided to interview some people in downtown Pittsburgh about what celebrities they thought they looked like. This news story turned into a National Day about Doppelgängers!

Let’s talk about Doppelgängers!

What is a doppelgänger?

A doppelganger is a term used to describe a lookalike or double of a person. The word “doppelganger”, which is actually a German word. It comes from two root words: the first,   “doppel”, means double and the second, “ganger”, means goer or walker. So, double walker otherwise known as a Look Alike!

According to folklore, a doppelganger is a paranormal phenomenon that is said to be an exact replica of a living person, and is often considered to be an omen of bad luck or an ill omen. 

In some cases, a doppelganger may be seen by someone else who knows the person they resemble, but in other cases, the doppelganger may be seen by the person themselves. This can be a very eerie experience, as it can feel as if one is looking into a mirror, but the reflection is not behaving in the same way as oneself.

The concept of the doppelganger has been used in literature and popular culture for many years, and is often portrayed as a sinister or malevolent entity. In some cultures, it is believed that if one sees their own doppelganger, it is a sign that they will soon die. These look alikes were easy to recognize because unlike humans, they didn’t cast shadows or have reflections in mirrors. 

In modern psychology, the term “doppelganger” is sometimes used to describe a phenomenon known as “mirrored self-misidentification,” in which a person believes that their reflection is actually another person who looks like them. This condition is often associated with neurological or psychiatric disorders, such as dementia or schizophrenia.

It’s funny but also not funny because mental illness is absoltely NOT funny. But….

Mythical doppelgangers

In many myths, doppelgängers are often portrayed as supernatural or paranormal entities that resemble a person but are distinct from them. Here are some examples of mythical doppelgängers from different cultures:

  1. Norse mythology: In Norse mythology, a person’s fylgja is a spirit that takes on the appearance of the person it follows. The fylgja is believed to be a protective spirit that watches over its human counterpart, and it can sometimes appear to others as a doppelgänger.
  2. German folklore: In German folklore, a person’s doppelgänger is said to be an evil twin that represents their dark side. Seeing one’s doppelgänger is considered to be an omen of bad luck or impending death.
  3. Irish folklore: In Irish folklore, a person’s fetch is a spectral double that is said to appear when the person is close to death. The fetch is believed to act as a warning of the person’s impending demise.
  4. Japanese folklore: In Japanese folklore, a person’s tsukumogami is a spirit that inhabits an object that has been used for a long time. The tsukumogami can sometimes take on a human-like form and resemble the person who has used the object.
  5. Hindu mythology: In Hindu mythology, a person’s atman is their eternal soul. The atman is believed to be identical to the supreme soul of the universe, and seeing one’s doppelgänger is considered to be a sign of spiritual enlightenment.

In many cultures, seeing one’s doppelgänger is believed to be a bad omen or a sign of impending doom, but in some cases, it can also be seen as a sign of spiritual awakening or a connection to the supernatural realm. Let’s go with the latter, methinks.

How about some not so nice doppelgängers?

In many cultures and mythologies, doppelgängers are often associated with the concept of an “evil twins,” or  the more modern term “twin stranger” which is a dark or malevolent version of a person that resembles them physically but has a completely different personality and set of motivations. Here are some examples of evil twin doppelgängers in popular culture:

  1. “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”: In Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” the main character, Dr. Jekyll, creates a potion that transforms him into his evil alter ego, Mr. Hyde. Mr. Hyde is physically identical to Dr. Jekyll but is a cruel and violent sociopath.
  2. “The Parent Trap”: In the 1998 remake of “The Parent Trap,” Lindsay Lohan plays identical twins who were separated at birth and raised by different parents. When they meet each other at summer camp, they decide to switch places in an attempt to reunite their parents. However, one of the twins turns out to be more mischievous than the other and causes all sorts of problems.
  3. “Black Swan”: In the psychological thriller “Black Swan,” Natalie Portman plays a ballerina named Nina who is cast in the lead role of “Swan Lake.” As she struggles to embody the duality of the swan’s character, she begins to experience hallucinations and paranoia, including visions of an evil twin who taunts and torments her.
  4. “Orphan Black”: In the TV series “Orphan Black,” Tatiana Maslany plays multiple clones who are genetically identical but have different personalities, skills, and motivations. One of the clones, Helena, is portrayed as an unstable and violent psychopath who becomes a major antagonist in the series.

The concept of the evil twin doppelgänger is often used in popular culture to explore themes of identity, morality, and the duality of human nature. While the idea of a physical double who embodies one’s dark side is largely fictional, it has captured the popular imagination and continues to be a recurring theme in movies, books, and TV shows. Because, let’s face it… an evil twin sure does make for an exciting storyline!

Celebrating National Look-Alike Day

One of the most popular ways to celebrate National Look-Alike Day is by hosting a look-alike party. OH YEAH. 

This can be a fun way to bring people together and celebrate their similarities. Guests can dress up as their favorite celebrity, historical figure, or even a best friend or family member who looks like them. They can also play games like “Who Do You Look Like?” or have a look-alike contest to see who has the best resemblance.

Another popular way to celebrate National Look-Alike Day is by taking photos with your doppelganger. Whether you’re out and about or attending a party, snapping a selfie or taking a group photo can be a fun way to commemorate the day. You can share your photos on social media using the hashtag #NationalLookAlikeDay to join in the celebration with others.

If you’re feeling creative, you can also make a DIY costume or makeup look inspired by your favorite celebrity or fictional character. This can be a fun way to express your creativity and showcase your skills. You can even share your creations on social media or participate in online look-alike challenges to see who can come up with the best costume or makeup look.

Some fun facts about celebrity look alikes

Would you love to have a famous singer come perform at your birthday party? Maybe your someone’s number one fan, but you can’t afford to hire the pop star of your dreams. But what if  you could have the next best thing?

From Elvis Presley to Marilyn Monroe, there are a lot of entertainers that are professional look-alikes, and you can hire your favorite celebrity’s living clone! 

Here are some fun facts about celebrity look-alikes:

  1. There are lookalikes for almost every celebrity: There are professional lookalikes for almost every famous celebrity, from Hollywood actors to musicians to political figures.
  2. Lookalikes can make a lot of money: Some celebrity lookalikes earn a good living by appearing at events, parties, and corporate functions.
  3. Celebrities sometimes hire lookalikes for security reasons: Some celebrities hire lookalikes as decoys to distract paparazzi or potential attackers.
  4. Some lookalikes have become famous in their own right: Some celebrity lookalikes have gained a following of their own and have even appeared in movies, TV shows, or commercials.
  5. Celebrities sometimes hire their own lookalikes for fun: Some celebrities have been known to hire their own lookalikes to play pranks or to make public appearances on their behalf.
  6. Lookalikes can have different levels of resemblance: While some celebrity lookalikes are virtually indistinguishable from the real celebrity, others may only have a passing resemblance.
  7. Lookalikes often have unique skills: Many celebrity lookalikes have talents or skills that are related to the celebrity they resemble, such as singing, acting, or playing an instrument.
  8. Some celebrities have multiple lookalikes: Some celebrities have so many lookalikes that it can be difficult to tell the real celebrity from the fake ones.
  9. Lookalikes can be found all over the world: Celebrity lookalikes can be found in many different countries and cultures, and often have different levels of popularity and demand depending on the region.

Francois Brunelle and the I’m Not a Look-Alike Project

Francois Brunelle is a Canadian photographer known for his project “I’m Not a Look-Alike!”, which features portraits of non-related people who bear a striking resemblance to each other. The project began in 1998 and has since grown to include hundreds of portraits from around the world.

Brunelle’s fascination with look-alikes began when he saw two strangers who looked remarkably similar to each other on a bus in Montreal. This encounter sparked his curiosity and he began to search for more look-alikes to photograph. He has since traveled to over 30 countries in search of subjects for his project.

Brunelle’s portraits are typically shot in black and white and feature the look-alikes standing side by side, often dressed in similar clothing to emphasize their resemblance. The photographs are often uncanny, with the subjects appearing almost indistinguishable from each other.

Brunelle’s project has been featured in numerous exhibitions and publications, including National Geographic, The New Yorker, and The Guardian. The project has also won several awards, including the Grand Prix Award at the International Photo Awards and the People’s Choice Award at the Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward Festival.

In addition to his work on “I’m Not a Look-Alike!”, Brunelle is also a commercial and editorial photographer who has worked with clients such as Coca-Cola, Nikon, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

What are the odds of my meeting my look alike?

It’s difficult to figure out the exact odds of meeting your look-alike because it totally depends on a lot of different factors, such as your physical appearance, your location, and the size of the population you are in.

However, according to a study conducted by the University of Adelaide in 2015, the probability of finding a doppelganger in a population of around 7.4 billion people (the estimated world population at that time) is surprisingly high. The study found that there is a one in 135 chance that a person has a doppelganger somewhere in the world who looks almost exactly like them.

This may seem like a super low probability, but it’s important to note that it really only takes into account physical appearance and doesn’t consider other factors such as age, height, weight, and other distinguishing features. Additionally, the study assumes a completely random distribution of physical features in the population, which is not always the case. I’ve seen people who look a lot alike just in our little town and they aren’t related!

So though the odds might be low, you never know! You might just meet your mirror image any day now.

Why National Look-Alike Day is important

National Look-Alike Day is more than just a super fun holiday. It’s an opportunity to celebrate diversity and inclusivity. By embracing our similarities, we can appreciate the unique qualities that make each of us special. It also reminds us that appearance isn’t everything and that we should value people for who they are, not just what they look like.

National Look-Alike Day can also be a way to boost confidence and self-esteem. Seeing someone who is the spitting image of you can be fun and validating making you feel seen and appreciated.

So why not embrace your doppelganger and celebrate National Look-Alike Day this year?

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