'One-in-a-million' biracial twin girls are mistaken for best friends instead of sisters

When strangers first meet 11-year-olds Marcia and Millie Biggs, they never think the little girls are related.

“When people see us, they think that we’re just best friends,” Marcia says in the cover story for National Geographic ‘s April issue, titled The Race Issue. “When they learn that we’re twins, they’re kind of shocked because one’s Black and one’s white.”

The girls tell their story in the special installment, which is a single topic issue on the subject of race.

Marcia and Millie, the daughters of a mother who is white and a father who is Jamaican, look quite different. Marcia has blue eyes, blonde hair and pale skin, while Millie has brown skin, brown eyes and black curly hair.

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Their parents, Amanda Wanklin and Michael Biggs, say they’ve always “accepted” their little girls, but have had to field questions from curious strangers.

“When they were first born,” Amanda, who calls her daughters “one in a million,” tells the publication, “I would be pushing them in the pram and people would look at me and then look at my one daughter and then look at my other daughter. And then I’d get asked the questions: ‘Are they twins?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘But one’s white and one’s Black’ Yes. It’s genes.’ ”

The fraternal twins, of England, looked identical at birth, the parents told Good Morning America. But when the girls were 10 months old, the parents noticed a change.”The change happened with Millie first. She went darker and darker,” Michael told GMA.

The girls told the magazine that they’ve never been subjected to racism, but both Millie and Marcia are well aware of what it is.

“Racism is where someone judges you by your color and not by your actual self,” Millie told GMA. “I prefer to be different. You don’t always have to blend in the crowd because if you do you won’t get noticed. It’s better to be you.”

Now, Millie, who the parents describe as a “princess,” and Marcia, who they say is a “tomboy,” are proud to show off their differences — and similarities.

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“I’m proud of us,” Marcia told GMA of herself and Millie. “It’s not every day you’ll see yourself on a magazine. It looks so bold … I feel special being on the front cover.”

The family’s story is similar to that of an Illinois interracial couple who spoke out after welcoming twins girls, one with a light complexion and one with brown skin.

Dr. Nancy L. Segal, psychology professor and director of the Twin Studies Center at California State University, previously told PEOPLE that skin tone is under the control of “many different genes.”

“It could be one child inherits certain genes from both parents and the other child inherits sets of genes from the other parent. And that explains the different skin tones,” she said. “It’s just like how ordinary fraternal twins can look completely different from each other. They just inherit different sets of genes-one child gets the lighter ones, the other’s darker.”

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