04/10/2015 11:36 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Here's What It's Like To Go Through Life Sharing A Name With An Olsen Twin

"I used to get random messages on AOL Instant Messenger calling me a 'stupid anorexic bitch' and a 'coke whore.'"

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The ongoing "Humans of New York" project -- where photographer Brandon Stanton takes photos of people he finds interesting around New York City and asks about their lives -- recently surfaced a story about a young girl who happens to be named Beyoncé. "Sometimes I hate my name," the girl revealed to Stanton, continuing on to say that she gets nervous when people learn her name because every time "somebody starts singing 'Single Ladies.'"

After the photo of her started to go viral, people with similar name issues began commenting on the post. Tina Turner said, "I know the feeling!" with a winky face. Julia Roberts revealed she still wants to become an actress, but encouraged Beyoncé to "be proud of your name" and to "keep your head up!"


Unfortunately, the original Beyoncé post was only a paragraph long. Short and sweet, but devoid of the details of what daily life is like being called -- at least by name -- a superstar.

As evidenced by the dozens of people expressing similar afflictions and feeling the need to reach out and provide comfort to the young girl, clearly there was a larger story to sharing a celebrity moniker.

And so, The Huffington Post reached out to Mary Kate Olsen.


Olsen is now 24-years-old, which means the Olsen twins were four and on "Full House" when she was born. Clearly, her parents "didn't think the twins would be famous by the time [she] was really old enough to understand." And besides, they named her Mary Kate after two of her mother's aunts. Not after the child star.

When she first saw the Beyoncé post on Humans of New York, Olsen felt compelled to comment to try and "commiserate with the young woman" because she knew "the feelings she goes through."


Every single time I introduce myself I get some variation of the same phrases and questions: "Is that really your name? Or are you just joking? Really? I need proof!" "Oh my God, like the twins? Do you have a sister named Ashley? Are you guys twins? Are you related to them?" "Did your parents do that to you on purpose?" Or sometimes the people just get really rude and start calling me, "full house" or other really original teasing nicknames. (The sarcasm is thick ...)

Over time, Olsen has learned to overcome the strangeness of it all. But the day-to-day struggles of sharing a celebrity name certainly highlight the unexpected, and often unfortunate, cost of our obsession with the famous.

Growing up, Mary Kate would "boycott" everything Olsen.


The Olsen twins were certainly a staple in many millennial lives, and so it would be hard to have completely avoided the television appearances, VHS tapes, clothing lines, tabloid stories and so on and so on. But that's exactly what Mary Kate Olsen strove to accomplish.

"Growing up I tried to stay away from anything having to do with the Olsen twins," Mary Kate told The Huffington Post in a Facebook chat. "I never watched 'Full House' or their movies or read the books or bought their clothes. I hated having the same name and all of the teasing so I just boycotted all of their stuff, even before I knew what boycotting was."

She was thankful that as she got older, the Olsen twins ubiquity sort of died down and at least the branded merchandise wasn't as popular. But unfortunately as she grew older, '90s nostalgia became a thing. "The constant comments never faded," she said.

There's no longer an official boycott in her mind over the twins, but Olsen still feels as if she wouldn't "ever get their stuff anyway."

Random people would message her terrible things over AOL Instant Messenger due to her name. Teasing would happen both online and off.

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When Mary-Kate Olsen ended up being surrounded by controversy in the tabloids, the worst dredges of society decided to bleed their opinions over to Mary Kate Olsen.

The non-celebrity Olsen was just a preteen when Mary-Kate started getting called out about her weight and alleged drug habits, which then translated to Mary Kate receiving similar attacks. Olsen explained:

I used to get random messages on AOL Instant Messenger calling me a "stupid anorexic bitch" and a "coke whore" and other lovely phrases and inappropriate comments all because they searched for Mary-Kate Olsen and instead got me. As if I didn't get bullied enough in my real life, now I was getting threatening and inappropriate messages from strangers.

Much like the twin, Mary Kate has pursued a career in acting and currently works as a Disney princess look-alike.


Olsen is both a full-time nanny and a Disney princess impersonator for a children's entertainment company called Kellie's Characters. "I love my job as an unofficial Disney princess," said Olsen, who describes playing and singing with children in full costumes, wigs and makeup.

She says the job is perfect for her since it utilizes her theater and musical background. She contemplated what would happen if she ended up trying to act in bigger roles and thinks she would have to change her name if she does. In the meantime, however, she's sticking to Mary Kate.

Making appointments often leads to people thinking she used a fake name. She believes that even prospective employers have taken her less seriously.


Though she landed the job of Disney princess and nanny, Mary Kate describes running into trouble when reaching out to employers: "It can be tough to get people to take you seriously when they first see your name," she says, and adds that she likely lost quite a few jobs "because they thought [her] name was a joke."

Similarly, setting up appointments can be tricky. "Often I've walked into appointments and they will say, 'Oh! You're real! I thought someone was playing a joke on me! I'm sorry!'"

That said, she still feels as if it hasn't been a "real obstacle" in her professional life once she's able to get past initial weirdness and possible teasing.

Her grandmother named a new dog, Ashley, without thinking of the consequences. Now her family has a Mary Kate and an Ashley Olsen.


Up until recent years, there was not an Ashley Olsen in Mary Kate's family. That all changed when her grandmother got a new dog:

My grandmother on my Dad's side got a poodle and she was black and white and grey and "looked like she had been playing in ashes" and got the name Ashley. Soon they, and the rest of the family, realized that we now had an "Ashley Olsen" and I was constantly posed for pictures with the dog.

After Hurricane Katrina, Olsen's family moved from New Orleans where she was born and raised to Atlanta, where her cousin was already going to high school. "Yep! I'm related to Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen!" her cousin would tell nosy classmates. When a boy asked her cousin if she could hook him up with Ashley, the cousin replied, "Sure! But she's a real dog!"

Olsen said, "She was my hero after that one."

Despite everything, Mary Kate Olsen is keeping the name and has adapted beautifully to this uncommon struggle.

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Much like Humans of New York's Beyoncé, Mary Kate Olsen used to be "really hesitant about revealing [her] name." She tried going by Katie or Caity at various points in her life, and even tried on her given formal Gaelic name of Maire Caitlin, but nobody could pronounce it (like Maura) or spell it correctly, so the name was dropped.

"I've certainly had people want to be my friend just because of my name, but then realize that I am more than just my name and they drift away," said Olsen. Now, however, she takes it with stride and cuts the inevitable questions off with a joke. When she embraces the similarity, people move on more quickly and "actually talk" to her.

"My name just becomes just that, my name, not a defining feature," she says.

All images of Olsen Twins: Getty. Mary Kate Olsen images: Facebook. The top images are with Olsen's best friend, Laura Chapman and her son, Jack Lanier. Beyoncé image: Humans of New York Facebook.



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