When we think of twins, we tend to picture two people who look just alike, think the same, and maybe even can reach others’ minds. That’s because we tend to think in duality; everything seems black and white to us. If something doesn’t fit into a box, we try to make it fit into another. But that’s not the reality of life. We are all so much more complicated, from the way we look to our being.
For this set of twins, nothing about them is ordinary. In fact, they don’t even look like they belong to the same ethnicity. One twin is fair while the other is dark-skinned. Their journey of integrating into society hasn’t been easy. Here’s where they are now.
A Surprise At Birth
Let’s go back to 1997 when Donna Aylmer received the ecstatic news that she was pregnant with twin girls. The proud parents couldn’t be more excited to have not one, but two babies born at the same time.
The big day finally came when the girls were born in January 1997 to Donna, who is half Jamaican, and their father, Vince, who is white. However, the excitement quickly turned into concern when the parents took a look at the newborn twin girls and realized that one twin was While while the other was Black.
Different But Similar
The twins couldn’t look more different from one another. Lucy has red hair, blue eyes, and a pale, freckled complexion. Maria, on the other hand, has brown skin, brown eyes, and dark curly hair.
The mom herself was in shock looking at her babies. Lucy explains that her mom “had no idea that we were so different. When the midwife handed us both to her, she was just speechless.”
While the parents were interracial and knew this was possible, they didn’t think it would happen to them. The mom adds: “At first, when they were born, I wanted to believe it, but it’s so rare I didn’t think it’d happen to my twins….But sure enough, they’re biracial twins!”
Two Worlds Collide
Lucy and Maria have to explain on a daily basis that they are, in fact, twins as most people see that one is White and one is Black and find it hard to believe. While it’s nice that they don’t get mixed up as some twins do, it makes it harder for them to be accepted.
The twins have three older siblings that have skin tones somewhere in between Lucy and Maria’s: “All our older brothers and sisters have a skin color which is in between Maria and I. We are at opposite ends of the spectrum, and they are all somewhere in between.”
No One Believes They’re Related
The twins explain that no one believes that they are related, even when they dress the same. “Most twins look like two peas in a pod — but Maria and I couldn’t look more different if we tried. We don’t even look like we have the same parents, let alone having been born at the same time,” explains Lucy.
Their friends have even asked them to show them birth certificates for proof. This trend continued all throughout their lives.
The Science Behind The Rare Occurence
While the twin’s situation is rare, with odds of about 1 in 500 chance, it does have a scientific explanation. Lucy and Maria are fraternal twins, meaning that two different eggs were fertilized by two different sperm.
Since their mother produced genes that had both light and dark features, each twin inherited a different set of genes from a separate fertilized egg. The conclusion is that each win inherited the genes for a different skin color.
Each With Her Own Personality
Not only do the twins look different, but they also have their individual preferences, hobbies, interests, and personalities. They once explained in an interview that by age seven, they already were asking their mom not to make them wear identical clothing anymore.
The twins are now adults, and each following their passion. Maria pursued Law and Psychology at Cheltenham College, while Lucy studied Art and Design at Gloucester College.
Lucy explained: “Maria was outgoing whilst I was the shy one. But Maria loves telling people at college that she has a white twin – and I’m very proud of having a black twin.”
A Hard Upbringing
The twin’s story is a small-scale example of how hard it can be to survive in our world as soon as we’re deemed different or don’t fit into society’s norms. The twins’ difference in their skin color hardened their upbringing, especially for lucy, who often compared the way she received by her Black skin and curly hair to the way her own sister was in comparison.
Lucy explains: ” They thought I was adopted and called me a ghost,” says Lucy. Yet Maria wished she looked more like Lucy: “I used to cry often. I had curly hair. I wanted my sister’s beautiful, red hair,” she says.
Bonded For Life
Luckily the sisters have always had each other to lean on and learn from as they navigated the path of life. While they are opposite in many ways, they are bonded by blood and are just as close as they can be. In fact, they consider themselves best friends and are proud to be related.
After all, as Maria points out: “If I have children one day, they may look like Lucy,” Lucy adds: “Now we are proud of the fact that we are each other’s, twin sisters. Maria loves telling people at college that she has a white twin – and I’m very proud of having a black twin.” The older they get, the better they get at navigating their similarities and differences and making their place in the world.
It’s What’s On The Inside That Matters
This story should be a reminder that the way we look doesn’t and shouldn’t define us. There are so many factors that go into it that defy race, gender, or any other box we impose on society. We are more diverse than we think.
“The physical traits you can see in a person are just a very small sliver of the genetic diversity across human populations. A lot of times, we only focus on the things our eyes can see, but what we see is a tiny tip of the iceberg of the actual genetic diversity in everyone,” points out Dr. Bryce Mendelsohn, a medical geneticist.
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