If you showed me this photo of myself in middle school or high school, I would take it into Photoshop and erase all the freckles.
I grew up with the idea that freckles meant imperfect.
I grew up wishing I had the perfect complexion, freckle-free.
I hated looking at myself in photos and I hated the way I looked.
My family would always talk about my freckles and how dark they were when I had been in the sun and how I had them because I didn’t eat all my rice (it’s an old Chinese wives tale).
I have two moles on my face. One on my cheek and one on my chin. I hated them.
My parents would always talk about them (in a joking way) that the one on my cheek is from crying too much and the one on my chin was from eating too much.
It affected the way I saw myself. Every time I saw a photo of me, I would cover up my mole and think, “I would be so much prettier without that.”
I hated my moles so much that when my mom suggested I laser them off, I went ahead and did it. I think I was only 14.
14 and already lasering my face to alter it into something that was more socially accepted.
Except, I don’t think society was rejecting me for my freckles and moles. It was culturally.
Jason sent me this article on NPR several weeks ago and it immediately brought me back to childhood.
In the Asian culture, freckles are seen as imperfect, ugly. A flaw.
In the Asian cultures, perfect skin means light, fair skin with no freckles.
Women in Asia use whiteners to lighten the color of their skin, stay out of the sun, and wear a lot of concealer to hide imperfections.
In America, it is opposite. We love to tan and we don’t cover up our freckles. We embrace them.
And, because I’m Asian and growing up with two Asian parents of course this is all I knew.
In fact, whenever someone complimented me on how “cute” I am and how much they “loved” my freckles. I literally would make a face and say, “really?!” – like I was taken aback and shocked that someone would think freckles were cute.
I hated them so much that I would never take any compliments on them. In my mind, my face was flawed.
I don’t necessarily fault my parents for any of this per say because that’s what they were brought up on, too, but I definitely grew up with extremely low self-esteem.
But, what’s ironic about all this is that freckles are genetic, lol – so it’s like there was nothing I could really even do. It’s not like I asked for them, haha..so the fact it was talked about so much just kind of makes no sense.
This isn’t a post to garner compliments or comment about my looks.
This is just simply a post to share how words can affect someone, especially at a young age.
Children are like sponges. They hear and take in more than you know and it can affect them in ways that you don’t realize would.
I don’t know if my parents truly realize how their constant critique of my freckles has affected me but it has.
I have bad days, still, where I wonder what it would be like if I just didn’t have freckles or if I could use more concealer to just hide it all.
My mom recently brought up that she thought my freckles were darker and she said it was due to dry skin.
So, it’s clearly still an issue.
Honestly though, it doesn’t bother me as much now as it did in the past. It’s still annoying, sure, because why are my freckles a big deal?
I don’t know what happened between college and now but I gained a lot of confidence during that time.
I think it was actually dating and having a boyfriend tell me I was pretty and having boys in college notice me.
I know that sounds weird but honestly, I had such low self-esteem that I truly thought I was ugly and that no one would ever think I’m pretty or want to be with me.
I’m in a lot better place today than I ever was.
I’m finally at peace with my freckles and I have accepted who I am.
My hope is that in this generation of women empowerment, we do just that.
We stop focusing on how someone looks and focus on what defines them. Their character, their drive, their ambition, their heart.