I Tried the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen Diet

I guess I’m getting decent at this celebrity diet gig, because at our June editorial meeting I was asked to venture forth into a territory where no Man Repeller writer has tread before: adopting the lifestyle of not one, but two, celebrities simultaneously. I assumed my editor was talking about Dylan and Cole Sprouse of The Sweet Life of Zack and Cody, but no. She had another, slightly less-relevant pair of twins in mind by the names of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

Don’t worry. I’m kidding. MK and A are without a doubt the most relevant twins on the planet. Like any ’90s kid worth her salt, I grew up watching them on Full House and in made-for-TV movies and, of course, listening to their music albums (Brother for Sale, anyone??). I remember renting It Takes Two at Blockbuster, but it’s taken me 22 years to realize how absurd it was for the film’s premise to suggest that two unrelated strangers who just happen to be identical could meet “accidentally.” Regardless, I vividly recall my deep affection for their early work.

There is unsurprisingly little information regarding the twins’ tastes, preferences and habits as children, but I did glean a few morsels from a 1992 interview on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. Popsicles and ice cream were their favorite foods at the time, which also happen to be two of my current favorite foods. The fact that they were six years old and I am 25 is unimportant. I indulged in the freezer section of Whole Foods accordingly.

I also learned that, in lieu of a standard signature, the girls preferred to dispense autographs with a bit more flair. This is what Ashley’s looked like:

I mean, the girl is basically Hemingway. I copied her to a tee, save for the letter which I swapped out for an “H,” in my work email signature. As of this story’s publish date, I have yet to change it back to my old one, and I have no plans to do so.

The real fun started when I began my foray into replicating their childhood style. Dressing like a six-year-old is already something I frequently undertake by choice (my rainbow sweater count stands at three), but dressing like the six-year-old Olsen twins was a whole new level of infantile pleasure. Seeing as I’ve already waxed poetic about my newfound love of scrunchies, I was more than prepared to take on the challenge.

I thought I was doing a great job replicating their girlhood ensembles until I looked back at some old pictures of my sister and me and wondered why I’d even bothered trying. My sister is 20 months younger than I am and therefore we did not inhabit our mother’s uterus simultaneously — but honestly, who’s counting? Exhibit A:

Their early 2000s teen style presented its own unique flower of an adventure. Even though I was also a teen in the early 2000s, I mysteriously missed the boat on many of that era’s most popular trends. Who knows why! JK I know why, it’s because I was a huge nerd. Fortunately life gave me a second chance. I did my best.

Apparently I wasn’t completely clued out of 2000s trends though, because I discovered evidence that I, too, went through a blindingly straight hair phase. Ditto for my sister. We were the ultimate fake twins. Fwins.

As the twins blossomed into young adults, they gradually assumed more ownership over their lives and careers. At age 12, they took an active role in helping design their own clothing line at Wal-Mart, which went on to make billions of dollars in sales. At age 18, they had to decide between going to prom and hosting Saturday Night Live. Although I have never designed my own clothing line, it was easy for me to empathize with the latter challenge. I make similarly difficult choices every day, like when I have to decide what variety of nut butter to put on my oatmeal. They chose Saturday Night Live, I usually choose cashew.

The Olsens also chose to attend New York University for college, which makes a lot of sense given their permanent cohort of paparazzi. Can you imagine if they’d gone to a tiny school in rural Massachusetts or something? Their bodyguards would have probably outnumbered the students.

I searched high and low on the internet for any semblance of insider information about what they were like at NYU and how they spent their time. I wanted to learn their “haunts” — their favorite restaurants, favorite stoops, favorite nightclubs — so I could take my own Olsen’s Tour of New York City Circa 2004 as part of this celebrity diet. I guess I shouldn’t have been too shocked to discover…ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I’m pretty sure the only places on the twins’ orbit from 2004 were their apartments, their classrooms and Starbucks. The great news is that this realization gave me the excuse to lie around and drink an abundance of venti soy lattes. I’ve never caffeinated more, or accomplished less, in a seven-day period.

My main occupation (besides my actual occupation) was replicating the twins’ NYU-era style and beauty looks, for which there is an abundance of material to reference online. I broke them down into three main phases:

1. Sun-smooched emo prom angels

2. Courtney Love wannabes

3. Bohemian ghost fairies

In 2005, news broke that Mary-Kate was dropping out of NYU to focus on her increasing responsibilities as co-president of Dualstar Entertainment, the company founded when they were children to leverage their growing popularity. Ashley followed suit not long after.

At this point, with enormous fame and an astronomical accumulation of hard-earned wealth, the twins could have done pretty much anything they wanted (short of joining a professional basketball team). Instead of continuing their careers as actresses, though, they swiveled their Kewpie doll eyes toward a whole new venture: creating the perfect T-shirt.

Such was their impetus for launching The Row, according to Olsen legend.

The Row debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2010 with a 19-look collection of elevated basics in navy, cream and black. That season was touted as a return to classic American sportswear, and The Row — a fledgling luxury label that somehow channel edgy cool and anonymous chic all at once — turned out to be one of the most critically well-received shows of the bunch.

As the Olsen twins transitioned from Hollywood darlings to fashion-industry heavyweights, their personal style and outward expressions of identity became less mainstream and more experimental. Just as Dorothy turned to her canine companion and said, “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore,” I can picture Ashley turning to Mary-Kate after winning the CFDA award for Womenswear Designer of the Year and observing, “MK, I don’t think we’re in Uncle Jesse’s care anymore.” The road from Full House to fashion house was filled with a multitude of Olsen iterations in between, but I like to think that by founding The Row and finding success in a highly competitive industry without any prior design training, the twins finally became comfortable enough in their respective skins to unveil the extent of their kooky, fascinating and delightfully eccentric selves.

This confidence ushered in a whole new style era for the twins, which I have chosen to dub “Nomadic Miss Havisham meets bohemian Game of Thrones recluse mermaid en route to spend a weekend in Alaska.” Rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it? I’m told I have a way with words.

In addition to dipping my toes into Mary-Kate and Ashley’s taste pool of jet-black layers and oversize bags, I also chronicled and attempted to replicate a selection of their other adult-onset quirks. For example, I took note of the following Mary-Kate confession in Harper’s Bazaar: “I run around my house naked with heels all the time. It’s so funny. All my friends will tell you I love running around in kimonos and jewelry or naked with jewelry.”

Speaking as an up-for-anything celebrity dieter, I will tell you that I did, in fact, jog a lap around my tiny NYC apartment completely nude save for a pair of black, Tabitha Simmons four-inch stiletto sandals. Speaking as the daughter of a 65-year-old man who dutifully reads every article I pen on this site, I will not show you any photos of this episode. But I swear on Uncle Jesse it happened.

Another fun and unconventional factoid I uncovered in my research is the rumor that Ashley hates the sound of people eating bananas. Absurd, right? Just silly famous twin thing. WRONG. I simply wasn’t paying attention before. Listening – I mean really listening — to someone eating a banana is like pouring goo in your ear and sucking it out with a too-thin straw. It is positively chilling. If you didn’t know, you do now. I’m so sorry. Let us break bread and share this banana burden together.

I decided The Prune should be my final act of eccentricity as the third adult Olsen twin (a self-appointed status more intimate than a stranger or sister but slightly less so than a triplet, to be clear). The Prune is not an obscure yoga pose, nor is it a clandestine code word signifying the uninvited arrival of Bob Saget. Nay, The Prune is a technique for achieving the perfect smile. A “friend” of the twins leaked to OK! that, “Every time they pose and smile, they say the word ‘prune,’” which creates a flawless, pouty-lipped, closed-mouth smile. Fictitious gossip? Perhaps. But look at any photo of the Olsen twins from recent years, and you’re forced to admit that it really does look like they’re Pruning (verb form of The Prune, duh) in each and every one.

I gave it a shot, and frankly my lips have never looked more perfectly pillow-y. I guess what they say is true – once you go Prune, you never go back. I’m Pruning as I write this. I’d Prune a lot more, though, if someone could tell me how to gently remove my gobs of residual Olsen eyeliner without losing an eyeball. Mary-Kate and Ashley, LMK?

Feature image by Edith Young. Photos of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen via Getty Images and diet documentation via Harling Ross. 

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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