“If I just had a marker, I could connect the dots on your freckle face!”
I stifled the urge to sigh and roll my eyes. That wasn’t the first or last time I would hear that “joke”. Ever since I was a kid my freckle face was the first thing that people commented on about my appearance. When really, I wished they wouldn’t comment on my appearance at all. Knowing that people were perceiving my appearance always made me uncomfortable.
This time, the comment was coming from a retirement-aged man with a fluffy grey horseshoe for hair. He worked at the photo lab next to the big box chain portrait studio I worked at. I let out a forced “ha-ha” and avoided his eye contact. He shrugged and toddled off back to check on the film that was being processed. These days I didn’t get teased so much about my freckles. They had faded a lot since I was a child since I didn’t spend as much time outdoors. I used to spend much more time in the summer under the hot sun as a kid. They always exploded in population and darkened up during the summer months.
However, the darker my freckles got, the more the kids at school noticed them. The more the kids noticed them, the more they started to bully me about them. My mother once told me that I was going to “turn into one big brown freckle one day” if I kept getting more freckles. I couldn’t even escape the comments at home, it seemed. The here and there comments hurt and made me feel like I was a freak for looking different, for something that was out of my control. The effect it had on my self esteem was lasting.
As a kid, I read a picture book called Freckle Juice about a boy who admired his classmate’s freckle face so much that he begged to know how he could get his own. For fifty cents the classmate sold him his secret “freckle juice” recipe so he could develop his own. I remember wondering after reading this book why the kids in my class seemed to hate mine so much when the kids in his class seemed to revere them.
Now that I’m in my thirties I don’t really even notice my freckles anymore on a day to day basis. I look in the mirror and just see my face. The random pattern they leave all over my skin is so fun to look at. I love that even still my freckles come back out to dance in the hot summer sun. I never wear makeup and the only freckles that are covered up are ones that hide underneath my many tattoos. I’ve grown to love them and I don’t want to hide them away anymore.
When I was a kid, however, I would stand in front of the mirror and stare at them, willing them to go away. I’d pick at the freckles on my arms thinking that if I just scratched at them hard enough they’d go away. They were such a source of pain for me because they made me so different from all the other kids. As any kid wanted, I wanted nothing more than to fit in with my peers. My freckles accompanied by my neurodivergent traits made me just different enough that it was easy to exclude me.
Freckle Face Trend
At first it really bothered me when freckles became a beauty trend. People all across the world were using makeup and even permanent tattoos to emulate the extra patches of pigment that naturally occur under my skin. At first I thought “dammit, I earned these freckles!”. What was the point of all of the teasing I endured if now suddenly they’re popular and “in-style”?! I wore my freckles like a badge of honour, each freckle representing an unwanted comment from a stranger or a mean word from a classmate.
After giving it some thought however, I realised that maybe I shouldn’t be so mad about it after all. If it’s a beauty trend, that must mean that now people think that having a freckle face is cool. Kids with tons of freckles now, maybe they’re not getting picked on so much? I suppose kids are always going to find something to pick on others about, but maybe it’s not freckles anymore?
Stop trying to fit into a mould
Beauty trends change constantly. I think where the problem lies is when trends go further than just makeup and clothes. Beauty trends extend onto the very shapes of our bodies, our skin, our eye and hair colour, and all sorts of other things that we have no real control over. It feels like a way to just keep us distracted, doesn’t it? Sucking us in to what the current trends are. Tricking us into trying to change our bodies to fit into a mould that was never meant for any of us in the first place.
As a kid I could have learned how to use concealer to hide away my freckle face, cover it up, and try to fit in with the beauty trends of the late 90’s. Instead, I let my face be what it wants to be and hear the connect the dots joke for the thousandth time. But even after all the bullying and comments about my skin from my past, I love my freckle face and wouldn’t change it for anything.
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