When the parents of Maria and Lucy Aylmer went for a scan in 1996, they discovered that they were expecting twins. However, despite all the preparations they’d make to welcome two new additions to the family, nothing could have readied them for the surprise in the delivery room. Because what the sonogram hadn’t shown was that the twins have entirely different skin colors from each other.
Maria and Lucy Aylmer were born on January 16, 1997, in Gloucester, England. They have the same mom and dad and are, in fact, twins. However, their mom was shocked when the twins were handed to her in the delivery room. Her baby girls, after all, couldn’t have looked any less alike.
“It was such a shock for her because things like skin color don’t show up on scans before birth,” Lucy told the Daily Mail in 2015. “So she had no idea that we were so different. When the midwife handed us both to her she was just speechless.”
Throughout the girls’ young lives, their mom would dress them in identical outfits. Nonetheless, it did nothing to conceal the difference in their appearances; the two girls didn’t look like sisters, never mind twins. In fact, while they were growing up, the girls struggled to convince people that they were sisters at all.
“No one ever believes we’re twins,” Lucy explained to the Daily Mail. “Even when we dress alike, we still don’t look like sisters, let alone twins. Friends have even made us produce our birth certificates to prove it.” So how did the girls end up looking so different?
The girls’ mom, Donna Douglas, a 49-year-old warehouse worker, is mixed race with Jamaican heritage. Their dad, Vince Aylmer, a 55-year-old scaffolder, on the other hand, is white. To confuse matters further, the girls have three older siblings with an entirely different skin tone.
As non-identical twins, Lucy and Maria were born from separate eggs, so they wouldn’t necessarily inherit the same genes. Moreover, because of their mom’s mixed race ancestry, she possesses genes for both Afro-Caribbean and white skin. The womb, then, would become a skin-color 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, however, bookend their siblings: Lucy has a very fair complexion; Maria’s skin is a darker tone.
As Lucy explained, “Our brothers and sisters have skin which is in between Maria and I. We are at opposite ends of the spectrum and they are all somewhere in between. But my grandmother has a very fair English rose complexion, just like mine.”
The girls’ differences don’t end with their skin color, either. For instance, Lucy has blue eyes, while Maria’s are brown. Lucy is also a red-head and prefers to straighten her natural curls, and Maria’s hair, by contrast, is a mass of thick black curls.
There are dramatic differences in their personalities, too. Indeed, Maria is far more outgoing and confident than her sister. “I love meeting people,” Maria told Inside Edition. “I’m not scared to approach people.” “Whereas I am,” Lucy admitted. “I’m terrified of going up to random strangers.”
To further add to their differences, the girls’ style choices also couldn’t be less similar. Maria, for example, loves getting dressed up and opts for tailored clothing and a sophisticated look. Lucy, at the opposite end of the scale, prefers more casual clothes.
So whereas many twins can prank kids and teachers in school, Lucy and Maria could never fool their classmates. Lucy told the Daily Mail, “We were in the same class, but no one had a problem telling us apart. Twins are known for swapping identities, but there was no way Maria and I could ever do anything like that.”
Their differences, however, did take a toll on the young twins. By the time they turned ten, for instance, they insisted that they no longer wanted to dress alike. Lucy even admitted that she didn’t feel like a twin. “We don’t look alike. So why should we have to wear the exact same thing?” she said to Inside Edition.
Moreover, Maria often envied Lucy’s straight hair. As she admitted to Inside Edition, “I used to cry about it. I [hated] my curly hair.” For Lucy, things hit a low point when she was bullied at school. “They thought I was adopted and called me a ghost,” she recalled tearfully.
So, did their differences cause problems between the girls as they were growing up? Well, while they were never at war, it seems that their individuality inevitably created a distance between the twins. It’s a gap that Lucy feels could have been bridged had they looked more alike.
“I think if we’d looked similar or even identical, then the bond between us would have been stronger when we were younger,” Lucy told Yahoo Style in 2015. “But Maria and I had such different personalities, too. She was the outgoing twin whilst I was the shy one.”
With age, though, the twins have grown much closer. Lucy told Yahoo Style, “Now we have grown older, even though we still look so different, the bond between us is much stronger.” Indeed, the girls would now even describe themselves as “best friends,” despite their differences.
“Most twins look like two peas in a pod – but we couldn’t look more different if we tried,” Lucy explained to the Daily Mail. “We don’t look like we have the same parents, let alone having been born at the same time.” Now, however, these differences are something the twins celebrate.
Lucy now attends Gloucester College as an art student, and Maria is pursuing her interest in law at Cheltenham College. “Now we are proud of the fact that we are each other’s twin sister,” Lucy told Yahoo Style. “Maria loves telling people at college that she has a white twin – and I’m very proud of having a black twin.”
Lucy and Maria aren’t the only twin sisters with different skin colors, though. These baby girls, for example, were born pretty much indistinguishable from each other. But as they grew up their appearances began to diverge. And now, more than a decade after the twins’ birth, people struggle to accept that the pair are even related.
The twins’ parents, Amanda and Michael Biggs, hail from Birmingham in the U.K. Before the twins were born, this married couple had been keen to start a family for a number of years and eventually decided to undergo IVF treatment. Since Amanda has a fair complexion and her husband is of Jamaican origin, they knew that any babies they might conceive would be mixed race.
Both Amanda and Michael’s families have a history of multiple births, too. So it wasn’t a complete surprise that when Amanda fell pregnant she was told that she was expecting twins. And in 2006 she delivered daughters Marcia and Millie by Caesarean section at the Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham. When they were born, of course, the twins looked almost identical.
Soon, though, the children began to change before their parents’ eyes. “We never knew how different they were going to look,” Amanda told the Daily Mail in 2007. “People have said that it’s one of those unusual things to do with genes.” Yes, in a million-to-one miracle, these two peas in a pod would eventually develop one very obvious difference.
“Within a few months, the changes started to happen,” the twins’ dad, Michael, told SWNS. “Millie started to suddenly get darker, and we thought the same would happen to Marcia. The tops of her [Marcia’s] fingers and ears started to get darker, which we thought would be a sign of what was to come, but in the end, she just stayed the same.”
You see, Millie has inherited her father’s Jamaican genes, making her skin tone brown and her hair dark and curly. Sister Marcia, meanwhile, takes after her mother, with a fair appearance and blonde hair. Though surprised, neither of the girls’ parents were thrown by this odd difference. “We never worried about it, though, 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 other twins, something that obviously pleased their dad. “They get along so well with one another, they really do,” Michael told SWNS in 2017. “They’re always switching personalities. One moment one is quiet and the other is doing a lot of the talking, then after a few months or a year or so they switch back. It’s like one takes a break and the other takes over.”
Mom Amanda added, “They do absolutely everything together, and they’re always making videos of themselves singing and dancing.” She went on to explain that she has loved watching them develop as children. “They’re both very outgoing and positive, which is wonderful,” she said. “They’re great to be around because they always make you smile. I’ve devoted my whole life to looking after them, and I’ve treasured seeing them grow up together.”
The twins have changed as they’ve gotten older, both physically and mentally, too. “When they were younger, Millie was always quite shy, but as she’s grown up she’s become a real bossy-boots,” Amanda said. “She’s very organized and in control, often telling Marcia what to do.”
So, like all children, these unique little girls soon developed their own personalities and traits. “Millie is our little princess,” Amanda revealed. “She loves to have clothes related to princesses and lots of dolls. She’s obsessed with the color pink as well, just like you’d expect from a little feminine girl.”
Sister Marcia, on the other hand, is “a lot more of a tomboy,” as Amanda made clear. “A school friend was very good at gymnastics, and she’s picked it up from there and started to really enjoy doing that,” she explained. “Because she’s having extra gymnastics lessons, we wanted Millie to do something outside of school, too, so she’s going to do drama because she loves to perform.”
Of course, people often struggle to tell twins apart until they recognize their subtle differences and unique personalities. For one obvious reason, though, this doesn’t apply to Millie and Marcia. But despite the contrast in their skin tone, the twins still look very much alike. “Regardless of the color difference, people are able to tell that they’re twins because their features are so similar,” Michael said. “They’ve both got my nose, and I think that’s how people work it out.”
But the twins’ distinctive looks often cause a degree of puzzlement among members of the public, as Amanda explained to the The Sun. “When I told people they were twins, they would always be stunned,” she said in 2017. “I notice a lot of people doing double-takes. It does get a bit irritating sometimes, when you have people stopping you in the street all the time, 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 just passersby who find it hard to believe that Marcia and Millie are twins. People involved in their everyday lives have been thrown, too, such as when the girls attended elementary school in 2010. “People would get confused,” Amanda explained to SWNS. “I’d be picking them up after school, and the other parents would stop me and say, ‘Are they your daughters?’”
Michelle Gay, the twins’ head teacher at the time, was clearly mindful of the two special pupils in her charge as well. When the girls started at her school, for instance, she told the Daily Mail, “As Osborne Primary is an inclusive school where we celebrate and appreciate all differences, Millie and Marcia will be made to feel extremely welcome. While nurturing the special bond that exists between the girls as twins, we will also support each of them and anticipate their individual needs.”
But on September 7, 2017, the twins, aged 11, had their first day at King Solomon International Business School in Aston, U.K. And in a bid to smooth over any potential misunderstandings, Amanda approached the teachers to offer a few helpful pointers. “I’ve explained to the school that despite their differences, they are twins and hopefully that will help to overcome the awkwardness,” she said.
Luckily, the girls weren’t worried about their new surroundings. Quite the opposite, in fact. “They are both really excited to be moving up to secondary school because they love learning,” Amanda told SWNS. And Millie readily agreed, saying, “I think that it’s going to be fun to meet some new people and make lots of friends. It makes me laugh a lot when people don’t believe that we’re twins.”
Marcia echoed her mother and twin sister’s thoughts. “It’s going to be fun to go to a new school. The bit I’m most excited about is going to be the lessons,” she said. Meanwhile, in line with their differing personalities, the twins also enjoy contrasting school subjects. So while Millie excels at math, Marcia prefers to get to grips with English.
Regardless, though, Millie and Marcia’s parents are clearly over the moon with their amazing and talented twins. “They are both absolutely beautiful, and they make me proud every day. People are going to be amazed by 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 examined. Some experts even believe that twins can share each other’s thoughts and feelings on some sort of subconscious level. Whether this is something that’s true of Marcia and Millie isn’t apparent, but it’s clear that they have the gift of a built-in buddy from birth. As Marcia puts it, “My best friend is Millie because she’s always been there.”