That’s understandable – because something like this doesn’t happen every day. In this case, Maria and Lucy Aylmer were born on 16 January 1997. They have the same mum and dad and are most definitely twins. But their mother was shocked when the twins were handed to her in the delivery room. Yes, her baby girls couldn’t have looked less alike.
“It was such a shock to her because things like skin colour don’t show up on scans before birth,” Lucy told the Daily Mail in 2015. “So she had no idea we were so different. When the midwife handed us both over to her, she was just speechless.”
Nevertheless, her mother dressed the girls in the same outfits over and over again during their young lives. Of course, this did nothing to hide the difference in their appearance. The two girls did not look like sisters, let alone twins. In fact, as they grew up, the girls struggled to convince people that they were sisters at all!
“No one believes we are twins,” Lucy told the Daily Mail. “Friends even made us produce our birth certificates to prove it.” And in all fairness, it’s not something you see every day. So how did the girls come to look so different? And would they always look so different?
The girls’ mother, Donna Douglas, a 49-year-old warehouse worker, is of mixed race with Jamaican heritage. Their father, Vince Aylmer, a 55-year-old scaffolder, is white. The girls also have three older siblings with completely different skin colours. So here is the science part.
As fraternal twins, Lucy and Maria were born from separate eggs. This means that they did not necessarily inherit the same genes. Because of her mother’s mixed-race ancestry, she has genes for both Afro-Caribbean and white skin. So the womb would become a skin colour lottery for the twins.
The twins’ older brothers, George, 25, and Jordan, 23, and their older sister, Chynna, 24, all have a light brown skin tone. Maria and Lucy are the opposite of their siblings: Lucy has a very fair complexion, Maria’s skin has a darker tone.
Lucy explains: “Our siblings have a skin that is between Mary and me. We’re at opposite ends of the spectrum and they’re all somewhere in between. But my grandmother has a very fair English pink complexion, just like me.” The girls’ differences don’t end with their skin colour either.
For example, Lucy has blue eyes, while Maria’s eyes are brown. Lucy is also a redhead and prefers to straighten her natural curls, while Maria’s hair is a mass of thick black curls. There are also dramatic differences in their personalities.
Maria is much more outgoing and confident than her sister. “I love meeting people,” Maria told Inside Edition. “I’m not afraid to approach people.” “I, on the other hand, am,” Lucy admitted. “I’m terrified of walking up to random strangers.” And the differences don’t end there.
To add to the confusion, the girls’ style choices couldn’t be less similar. Maria, for example, loves to dress up and chooses tailored clothes and an elegant look. Lucy, at the other end of the scale, prefers more casual clothes.
So while many twins can play tricks on children and teachers at school, Lucy and Maria have never been able to fool their classmates. Lucy told the Daily Mail: “We were in the same class but no one had a problem telling us apart. Twins have been known to swap identities, but Maria and I could never have done anything like that.”
However, their differences troubled the young twins. When they turned ten, they insisted on not dressing alike. Lucy even admitted that she didn’t feel like a twin. “We don’t look alike. So why should we have to wear exactly the same thing?” she told Inside Edition.
Maria often envied Lucy’s straight hair. She admitted to Inside Edition, “I used to cry about it. I [hated] my curly hair.” Things reached a low point for Lucy when she was bullied at school. “They thought I was adopted and called me a ghost,” she recalled through tears.
So did their differences cause problems between the girls when they were growing up? Well, although they were never at war, it seems that their individuality inevitably created a distance between the twins. A gap that Lucy believes could have been bridged if they had looked more alike.
“I think if we had looked similar or even identical, the bond between us would have been stronger when we were younger,” Lucy told Yahoo Style in 2015. “But Maria and I also had such different personalities. She was the outgoing twin, while I was the shy one.”
As the twins have grown older, however, they have become much closer. Lucy told Yahoo Style: “Now that we’re older, the bond between us is much stronger, even though we still look so different.” The girls would even call each other “best friends” now, despite their differences.
“Most twins look like two peas in a pod – but we couldn’t look more different even if we tried,” Lucy told the Daily Mail. “We don’t look like we have the same parents, let alone that we were born at the same time.” Well, those differences are something the twins celebrate.
Lucy is now attending Gloucester College as an art student, and Maria is pursuing her interest in law at Cheltenham College. “Now we are proud to be each other’s twin sisters,” Lucy told Yahoo Style. “Maria loves to tell people at college that she has a white twin – and I’m very proud to have a black twin.”
But Lucy and Maria are not the only twin sisters with different skin colours. These baby girls were born virtually indistinguishable from each other. But as they grew up, their appearance began to diverge. And now, more than a decade after the twins were born, people are struggling to accept that the two are related at all
The twins’ parents, Amanda and Michael Biggs, are from Birmingham in the UK. Before the twins were born, the couple had wanted to start a family for many years and finally decided to have IVF treatment. As Amanda has a fair complexion and her husband is of Jamaican descent, they knew they would produce mixed-race children.
Both Amanda’s and Michael’s families have a history of multiple births. So it wasn’t a complete surprise when Amanda became pregnant and was told she was expecting twins. And in 2006, she gave birth to daughters Marcia and Millie by caesarean section at Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham. When they were born, of course, the twins looked almost identical.
But soon the children began to change before their parents’ eyes. “We never knew how different they would look,” Amanda told the Daily Mail in 2007. “People said it was one of those unusual things to do with genes.” Yes, in a million-to-one wonder, those two peas in a pod would eventually develop a very obvious difference.
“Within a couple of months the changes started,” the twins’ father, Michael, told SWNS. “Millie suddenly got darker, and we thought the same thing was going to happen to Marcia. The tops of her [Marcia’s] fingers and ears started getting darker, which we thought was a sign of what was to come, but in the end she just stayed the same.”
Millie, in fact, inherited her father’s Jamaican genes, making her skin tone brown and her hair dark and curly. Sister Marcia, on the other hand, takes after her mother, with a fair complexion and blonde hair. Although the girls’ parents were surprised, they didn’t mind this strange difference. “We never thought about it, we just accepted it,” Michael said. “I thought to myself, ‘No problem – one black, one white’.”
Growing up, Marcia and Millie were as close as any twins, which obviously pleased their father. “They get along so well, they really do,” Michael told SWNS in 2017. “They’re constantly swapping personalities. One moment one is quiet and the other talks a lot, then after a few months or a year or something they switch again. It’s like one takes a break and the other takes over.”
Mother Amanda added: “They do absolutely everything together, and they always take videos of themselves singing and dancing.” She went on to explain that she loves watching them develop as children. “They are both very outgoing and positive, which is wonderful,” she said. “They are great to be around because they always make you smile. I’ve spent my whole life looking after them and I’ve really enjoyed watching them grow up together.”
The twins changed as they got older, both physically and mentally. “When they were younger Millie was always quite shy, but as she’s grown up she’s become a real boss,” says Amanda. “She’s very organised and in control and often tells Marcia what to do.”
So, like all children, these unique little girls soon developed their own personalities and character traits. “Millie is our little princess,” Amanda revealed. “She loves dresses that have to do with princesses and lots of dolls. She’s also obsessed with the colour pink, as you’d expect a little feminine girl to be.”
Sister Marcia, on the other hand, is “much more of a tomboy”, as Amanda clarified. “A school friend was really good at gymnastics and she took it from there and started to really like doing it,” she explained. “Because she has extra gymnastics classes, we wanted Millie to do something outside of school, so she’s going to do theatre because she loves performing.”
Of course, people often find it difficult to tell twins apart until they recognise their subtle differences and unique personalities. However, for one obvious reason, this is not true of Millie and Marcia. Despite the contrast in their skin colour, the twins look very similar. “Regardless of the colour difference, people are able to tell they are twins because their facial features are so similar,” Michael said. “They both have my nose, and I think that’s how people figure it out.”
But the twins’ distinctive appearance often causes confusion among the public, as Amanda told The Sun. “When I tell people they’re twins, they’re always stunned,” she said in 2017. “I’ve noticed a lot of people look twice. It’s a bit irritating sometimes when people keep stopping you in the street, but then I remember how beautiful they are and how lucky I am to have them, and the irritation goes away.”
In fact, it is not only hard for passers-by to believe that Marcia and Millie are twins. People involved in their daily lives have also been thrown, for example when the girls attended primary school in 2010. “People would be confused,” Amanda explained to SWNS. “I would pick them up after school and the other parents would stop me and say, ‘Are these your daughters?'”
Michelle Gay, the twins’ headmistress at the time, also had an open ear for the two special needs pupils she looked after. For example, when the girls started at her school, she told the Daily Mail: “As Osborne Primary is an inclusive school where we celebrate and value all differences, Millie and Marcia will feel very welcome. While we nurture the special bond that exists between the girls as twins, we will also support each of them and meet their individual needs.”
But on 7 September 2017, the twins, aged 11, had their first day at King Solomon International Business School in Aston, U.K. And to clear up any potential misunderstandings, Amanda turned to the teachers to offer some helpful advice. “I explained to the school that despite their differences, they are twins and hopefully that will help overcome the awkwardness,” she said.
Fortunately, the girls were not worried about their new surroundings. Quite the opposite. “They are both very excited to go to secondary school because they love learning,” Amanda told SWNS. And Millie agreed: “I think it will be fun to meet new people and make lots of friends. It often makes me laugh when people don’t believe we are twins.”
Marcia echoed the thoughts of her mother and twin sister. “It will be fun to go to a new school. I am most looking forward to the lessons,” she said. In keeping with their different personalities, the twins also have different preferences in school subjects. While Millie excels in maths, Marcia prefers to deal with English.
Nevertheless, Millie and Marcia’s parents are overjoyed with their amazing and talented twins. “They are both absolutely beautiful and they make me proud every day. People are going to be thrilled with them for the rest of their lives, and I think that’s fantastic,” Amanda said.
The fascinating closeness that many twins enjoy is something that is often studied. Some experts even believe that twins can share each other’s thoughts and feelings on some kind of subconscious level. Whether this is true of Marcia and Millie is not apparent, but it is clear that they have the gift of a built-in mate from birth. As Marcia puts it, “My best friend is Millie because she’s always been there.”