The Most Tragic Things About The Olsen Twins

The following article mentions eating disorders, child sexualization, and drug use.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Fuller Olsen are prime examples of child actors who haven't had the easiest time growing up in the limelight. Born on June 13, 1986 two minutes apart, the sisters were cast on "Full House" that same year, sharing the role of Michelle Tanner, the baby of the sitcom family. Eventually, the Olsen twins went on to star in numerous movies, playing two characters rather than sharing a single role, and even had their own animated series. Mary-Kate and Ashley's faces and names were everywhere, and the media couldn't get enough of them.

During the course of their careers, the Olsen twins had several changing looks, amassed a multi-million dollar fortune, became producers, wrote books, and started their own fashion line. Ashley Olsen stepped away from acting full-time around 2004, but Mary-Kate continued on until 2011, where her last role was in "Beastly." Now over a decade later since the Olsen twins' faces have graced our screens, it doesn't seem like we hear much about them anymore.

They've become more private and have been prioritizing their business over Hollywood, but seeing as how they had full-fledged celebrity statuses and more money than they knew what to do with before they could even tie their shoes, who could blame them? Like most child stars, Mary-Kate and Ashley have struggled in the face of the media, where every mistake and life event was mercilessly captured. Here are the most tragic things about the Olsen twins you probably didn't know about.

Their parents thrust them into the spotlight at just 6 months old

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were just babies when they were cast on "Full House" at 6 months old. For eight seasons, the twins played Michelle Tanner — spouting lines like "You're in big trouble, mister" — and grew their fanbase. When they were 3, their parents hired Robert Thorne as their manager. Together, they created Dualstar, an entertainment company, which broadened the Olsen twins' reach from movies to books and music to merch. By the time the Olsen twins were 6 years old, they had become the youngest ever producers. By the time they were 10, they'd become self-made millionaires.

In an interview with Nylon, Ashley said, "We have been really involved in the process from the beginning, even when we were just 10 years old ... We've been able to learn a lot over the years, and the more you know the more you want to control things." And as much as their childhood taught them about the business of television and how to market themselves, it has to be said that this didn't give them much flexibility to just be children, as is usually the case when young kids are thrust into the spotlight.

"I wouldn't wish my upbringing on anybody," Mary-Kate told Marie Clare in 2010. "'I look at old pictures of me, and I don't feel connected to them at all," she remarked, adding that she and her twin sister were like "little monkey performers."

Mary-Kate suffered from an eating disorder

In the early naughts, the world was far from using inclusive, inoffensive language when it came to mental health. So when rumors surfaced about Mary-Kate Olsen suffering from an eating disorder, there were less than savory headlines and poor performance from talk show hosts.

Before she turned 18 and shortly after her high school graduation, Mary-Kate was admitted to a rehabilitation facility by her father and her therapist so she could get help for her eating disorder. As a source told People at the time, "There was an intervention. They finally reached the point where they had to act. They didn't want to find her dead on the floor from not eating."

A few months later, the Olsen twins guested on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," where they were asked about rumors that were going around. "You know, the one about eating," Winfrey said. Ashley tried to dismiss the question politely, saying, "You know, people are going to write what they're going to write," but Oprah continued, making light of the situation and asking about their dress size.

In 2008, Mary-Kate commented on the experience for the first time in an interview with Elle. She said, "I think the hardest part to get to is that point of asking for help or reaching out to other people and being honest with yourself. I do not want to go through my life with my eyes shut."

If you need help with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

Ashley's Lyme disease made her terribly ill

In 2016, Ashley Olsen was reportedly diagnosed with Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness. She had apparently gotten checked after noticing some of the symptoms, which can include severe headaches, rashes, joint and muscle pain, fatigue, and can cause issues with the heart and nervous system as well. An insider told OK!, "She's really sick. It's gotten worse. She was diagnosed in the very late stages so early detection measures weren't options for her. She's really going through it. When she does come to work, she looks haggard and disheveled. And she's often moody. Ashley's having a very rough time right now."

Many celebrities have been open about their Lyme disease diagnoses, including Justin Bieber, Avril Lavigne, and Ben Stiller, and they've all received treatment and carried on with their lives. While Ashley hasn't spoken out about her diagnosis and treatment, it can be assumed that she's doing much better now.

They were heartbroken by Bob Saget's death

In January 2022, the Olsen twins' on-screen dad, Bob Saget, died at 65 years old. It was reported that Saget, who played Danny Tanner on "Full House" and reprised the role on "Fuller House," had died of a head injury in his hotel room while on tour in Florida. The generation that had grown up watching "Full House," and the newer generation who had been drawn in by the reboot, were shocked and heartbroken by the news.

In Ashley Olsen's 2006 interview with Nylon, she revealed that she would still hang out with Saget, despite their show being off the air for over a decade at that point. Ashley said, "I still see Bob all the time. I go to the Laugh Factory to watch his stand-up and I'm involved with his charity." Mary-Kate and Ashley were unsurprisingly rocked by the news of Saget's death, having kept in touch all of these years. The Olsen twins released a joint statement to pay tribute to Saget, which was obtained by People. "Bob was the most loving, compassionate and generous man. We are deeply saddened that he is no longer with us but know that he will continue to be by our side to guide us as gracefully as he always has," it read.

Mary-Kate divorced Olivier Sarkozy after growing apart

The Olsen twins have been pretty low-key about their love lives, so when Mary-Kate Olsen got together with Olivier Sarkozy, a French banker, in 2012 after meeting at a party, the public was intrigued. They were seen together at a New York Knicks game and at a gala the following year. But public sightings were few and far between, as Sarkozy and Mary-Kate kept things private. She was spotted wearing an engagement ring in 2014; a year later, they tied the knot, and their infamous "cigarette bowl" wedding hit the headlines.

The few times the couple were seen together throughout their eight-year relationship, they always looked happy and comfortable. Mary-Kate also became a stepmother to Sarkozy's two children. However, amidst the pandemic in 2020, Mary-Kate filed for divorce, which became a dragged-out process due to New York courts putting a pause on divorce filings. The divorce was eventually granted, but many wondered why things seemed to shift so suddenly for the couple.

According to a source for Page Six, "Olivier was concerned for the safety of his family in New York during the pandemic. He insisted to Mary-Kate that he wanted to bring his ex-wife, their kids and his mother from the city, to their Bridgehampton home." Now living with her husband's ex-wife, it was too much for Mary-Kate to handle. The source added the relationship ending was simply due to the pair "growing apart. No cheating or betrayals."

Ashley reportedly had a botched facelift

As the Olsen twins have gotten older, many have pointed out that the sisters hardly look like twins anymore. Granted, they're not identical twins — rather, fraternal, also known as sororal, twins — but their evolving looks have had the media's attention for some time. So, when Ashley Olsen reportedly had plastic surgery in 2016, it made headlines — and not because it was successful.

A source told In Touch, "Just before the holidays, Ashley underwent a simple filler procedure called a liquid facelift, but it went horribly wrong." Apparently, a few days after Ashley had the facelift, "It caused her face to swell, bruise, and blacken. Ashley freaked out when she saw it. It was a nightmare." She met with her doctors who informed her that she had necrosis, a condition caused by a lack of blood circulation that can cause the death of cells and skin tissue. Luckily, Ashley's been famous for long enough to know how to hide her face. After undergoing oxygen therapy, it's like the botched surgery never happened. With that said, it must've been a seriously traumatic event for her to deal with.

The Olsen twins dropped out of NYU

As the famous twins grew up, it came time for them to enroll for college. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen decided to attend New York University together in 2004. They bought a $7.3 million apartment in the West Village to reside in while they studied in New York, which sounds like the dream (although they never lived in it). Unfortunately, though, they didn't have the college experience most teens would hope for.

After just a year at NYU, Mary-Kate announced that she would be taking a leave of absence from school, as her representative told People, "To focus on her increasing responsibilities as co-president of Dualstar Entertainment Group and to pursue personal interests." But behind the scenes, the Olsen twins' classmates made it difficult for the girls to feel safe. They were selling stories and anecdotes to journalists, some even earning academic credit for doing so, and the twins had virtually zero privacy.

Speaking with Marie Clare, Ashley said, "When I came to [NYU], it was really tough for the first couple of months because I couldn't show up to some classes, because there'd be paparazzi outside." She left NYU not long after Mary-Kate, but the reason she cited was that she and her sister were finally launching their fashion line. Although their experience in higher education was unconventional, the Olsen twins frankly aren't the conventional type.

They were just two of many 'legal countdown' victims

You've probably stumbled across it: the seedy countdown, marking how long until young famous women reach the age of consent. It's also known as the 18th birthday countdown clock, and it's unfortunately been happening for years. The Olsen twins were the victims of this disturbing practice in 2004, and a few years later, the focus was on Emma Watson. In 2022, Millie Bobby Brown was the subject of online forums counting down the days until she would be "of age," which only continued the perverse online tradition that sadly encourages the sexualization of children.

After Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen celebrated what would be an exciting milestone for most, a New York Post article announced, "The Olsen twins are legal – and they're loaded." You can imagine the disgust and discomfort the sisters felt, but they sadly would have been used to it by then. In 2003, they spoke with Rolling Stone about an interview they had with Connie Chung the year prior, where they were questioned about their virginity. Recounting the interview, Ashley said, "I got really angry and defensive. I was like, 'That's personal. Why would you be asking a 16-year-old that question in the first place?'" She went on to describe "crying hysterically" when photos of the young twins wearing bikinis were published. There's no telling the level of trauma this breach of privacy and sexualization caused the Olsen twins.

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Mary-Kate's drunken shenanigans were front-page news

Tabloids love a celebrity under the influence, especially when they aren't maintaining their composure. Unfortunately for Mary-Kate Olsen, the cameras caught a handful of her drunken moments when she went through a bit of a partying phase in 2005. A photographer who was secretly in attendance at Naomi Campbell's 35th birthday party told the New York Daily News, "At one point Mary-Kate was sitting next to Penelope Cruz on a bench, looking totally wasted. It was almost like she was on the verge of throwing up."

That same year, SFGATE reported that Mary-Kate had to be carried out of rock band Oasis' dressing room after a concert in New York, and she was "taken to recover in the VIP bathroom." This obsession with catching the Olsen twins in less-than-lady-like moments was nothing new, though. In fact, reality star Spencer Pratt once sold a photo of an underage Mary-Kate drinking at a high school party to the tabloids for $50,000. You might say this is the price to pay when you're famous, but others would probably argue that the Olsen twins never caught a break and were tragically preyed upon by the media every time they tried to let loose.

Ashley was the subject of dishonest tabloids

The National Enquirer has been behind some of the more juicy and controversial headlines over the years. From harassing Brooke Shields' mother who was suffering from dementia to insinuating that Celine Dion was pregnant with twins and insinuating that Patrick Swayze was dying, needless to say, the publication came under a lot of heat before it was sold in February of 2023.

The twins were the focus of less-than-truthful tabloids several times, but when Ashley Olsen was the subject of an article by the National Enquirer with the headline, "Ashley Olsen Caught in Drug Scandal," she took action. Although Ashley's boyfriend at the time was under investigation for selling drugs, she had no part in it — and to make matters worse, the lawsuit claimed that the picture in the story was used to strongly hint that she was under the influence of drugs. Ashley sued the National Enquirer for $40 million in 2005, and shortly after, the publication released a statement that said, "The National Enquirer wants to make clear to its readers that, by its cover and headlines, it did not intend to accuse Ms. Olsen of being involved in any drug scandal."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

They've been maliciously shamed for their looks

When you're in the public eye for years on end, it's common to be the victim of harsh comments and brutal judgment. The Olsen twins know this to be true, especially in recent years, having spent their infancy all the way through to their 30s in front of cameras. There have been countless articles, forums, and social media posts asking if they've had work done or if they're sick, because some can't seem to wrap their minds around how Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen look today.

An article by Life & Style took to questioning plastic surgeon Dr. Rian Maercks about "Mary-Kate and Ashley's new, rather haggard looking faces." He answered that the "damage" was likely caused by her cigarette habit, as this can cause accelerated aging. It's true that the Olsen twins have been known to smoke for many years (and of course, there was the time Mary-Kate offering her wedding guests bowls of cigarettes at hers and Olivier Sarkozy's wedding), but it's still rather harsh criticism from the publication.

Affinity Magazine tweeted a now-infamous (and since retracted) caption, "White people age like bananas," alongside a picture of the Olsen twins with Nicki Minaj. And in 2017, TheRichest published an article titled, "15 Looks That Make the Olsen Twins Look Old AF." Having already stepped away from their fame some years ago, we wouldn't blame them if this merciless age-shaming made them want to retreat again.

Their younger sister has surpassed them in fame

With all of this talk about the Olsen twins, it's easy to forget that they have other siblings. There's Trent, Elizabeth, Courtney, and Jake, but of course, we know all about actress Elizabeth Olsen, and so does the rest of the world. Although Elizabeth Olsen's net worth is just a fraction of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's, she has skyrocketed to fame with her role as Wanda Maximoff in the "Avengers" franchise. But there's no bitter rivalry between the siblings, as Mary-Kate and Ashley had already left Hollywood in place of the fashion industry and have supported Elizabeth throughout her career.

In an interview with Harper's Bazaar, Elizabeth said about her older sisters, "I felt very clear about how I was going to navigate lots of things because of watching them. I also felt very protected." She revealed that she watched Mary-Kate and Ashley working from a young age and decided that she didn't want to follow in their footsteps because she enjoyed school and extra curricular activities too much.

Elizabeth also spoke to Glamour UK in 2021 about the best piece of advice the Olsen twins gave her, which was, "No is a full sentence." She said, "The word 'no' specifically was something that I remember my sisters isolating and it becoming really empowering." By all accounts, the three sisters remain close, and Elizabeth has even been seen sporting some of the twins' designs.