Taylor Muhl, 33, from LA, suffers from chimerism, which occurs when a non-identical twin dies in the uterus and is fused into the surviving sibling.
A model has revealed her unusual two-tone birthmark is the result of her absorbing her own twin in her mother’s womb. As a result, Ms Muhl’s torso is divided into two colours, with the left side including her twin’s genetic make up and the right side her own.
Ms Muhl, who says she is her ‘own twin’, also has two sets of DNA, blood cells and immune systems.
After years of covering her abdomen on photo shoots and asking for the blemish to be edited out of pictures, Ms Muhl is speaking out to raise awareness of chimerism and encourage others to embrace their uniqueness.
She said: ‘There is a place for everybody in this world.
‘We are all special, we are all unique and we all have something to give.’
Taylor Muhl’s birthmark is due to her absorbing her own twin in her mother’s womb
Her torso is divided into two colours, with the left side including her twin’s genetic make up
Working as a model, Ms Muhl spent years being too self conscious to show off her body
WHAT IS CHIMERISM?
Chimerism occurs when a person absorbs their twin who died in the womb, leaving them with two sets of DNA, blood cells and immune systems. One set of genes is found in one organ or region of the body, while the other is predominant elsewhere.
Chimerism’s prevalence is unclear. Chimera comes from a Greek mythological creature that was composed of a goat, lion and snake.
Most cases have no symptoms, with people being unaware they have the condition. Some people with chimerism may have different eye colours, or patches of different skin tones or sections of hair.
Patients may also experience autoimmune disorders due to their bodies recognising their twin’s genes as a foreign substance. Anything that increases the likelihood of a twin pregnancy raises the chance of chimerism.
This includes parents using IVF or fertility medications to conceive.
‘I am my own twin’
After suffering from autoimmune disorders for years, Ms Muhl was finally diagnosed in her twenties.
She told Barcroft TV: ‘I am my own twin because I have two genetic make ups within one body.
‘It’s basically having totally two different humans under the same hood of the car, so to speak.
‘When I grew up no-one said anything about my second colour skin pigmentation because no one really knew. The only people that did know were probably my closest friends and family.
‘Anywhere I went publicly I always kept it covered.
‘My whole life I was always told that my second colour skin pigmentation was just a birthmark. Most doctors, even in this day and age, don’t know about chimerism because it’s that rare.’
On photo shoots, Ms Muhl would hide her abdomen or ask the two toning to be edited out
Ms Muhl is now speaking out to encourage others to embrace their uniqueness
‘It will be there ’til I leave’
While working as a model, Ms Muhl was so self conscious of her appearance she tried to have her birthmark lasered off.
She said: ‘I think my very first appointment was so painful to the point that it brought me to tears.
‘I was just blown away because I couldn’t understand why it was hurting so bad if it was just a birthmark.
‘The doctor wanted me to come back for a second time and I just said, “No way, it’s staying on me.” It was unbearable, so it cannot be removed.
‘It’s been on me since the day I was born and it will be there ’til I leave.’
After Ms Muhl was born, her mother Alex immediately noticed a ‘demarcation’ down her body
After laser removal was too painful, she became determined to live and die with the blemish
‘I was very insecure about it’
After hiding her abdomen for most of her life, Ms Muhl, who also works as a singer, is now finally showing off her body.
She said: ‘I definitely had times in my life I had been insecure about showing my torso.
‘I was so scared that if I showed my torso on a job or a photo shoot, that clients would never want to work with me again. Or I might not book the job to begin with because I am “different”.
‘If there was a situation where I had to show it, I would always ask the photographer after like, “Please Photoshop it out of the photos”. I was very insecure about it because I didn’t want it to hinder me.
‘Women in general, we all have our own insecurities and having a torso that is two different colours was definitely one of mine.
‘What gave me the confidence to finally come out about being a chimera is I realised I have been hiding this my entire life, almost pretending like it’s not a part of my life.’
Alex turned down ultrasound scans and was therefore unaware she was carrying twins. Ms Muhl, pictured with her mother, hopes to inspire others with her success as a model.
Refusing to let her condition hold her back, Ms Muhl also works as a singer. Pictured as a teenager, Ms Muhl does not wish to be defined by her skin abnormality.
Even as a young girl, Ms Muhl was drawn to working in the entertainment industry.
‘Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something’.
Ms Muhl is now keen to inspire others to embrace what makes them different.
She said: ‘I have the opportunity to hopefully help others. All the people out there that are different like me, we can show them that you can be a model or you can be an actress or you can be a singer.
‘Don’t let it stop you or hold you back because you are different.’
‘My message to the world is don’t ever let anyone tell you that you. can’t do something or that you can’t be something that you dream about.
‘If you are different, if it is due to a physical abnormality or a condition you have, It doesn’t matter.’
Pictured with her parents, she was born with two sets of DNA, blood cells and immune systems.
Ms Muhl says there is space for everyone in the world to shine and show off their differences.
Mother was unaware she was expecting twins.
Opting for a completely natural pregnancy, Ms Muhl’s mother Alex was unaware she was expecting twins due to her refusing to have any ultrasound scans.
Alex said: ‘I had Taylor at home and I had two midwifes who took care of me.
‘Everything was done naturally.So I never knew.
‘As soon as Taylor was born, we just swaddled her and enjoyed the moment.
‘Then after the midwife swept her away to bathe and weigh her, and then brought her back, it was like, “Wow! What is this?” And there was this demarcation down the middle of her abdomen.’