I Embraced Freckles After A Lifetime of Hating Them

  • 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.

    Julie Wampler of Table for Two

    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.

  • 12 Comments
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  • Michelle says:

    I have many freckles and pale skin. I was once told, “A face without freckles is like a sky without stars!” My daughter loves my freckles and hers on her face too! Wisdom of a child who hasn’t listened to anyone else’s opinions! 💗. Yourself. Period. 😊

    • Julie Wampler says:

      So true!

  • Stephanie Hanson says:

    Love this post! It is so true that our words can leave lasting marks on our kids. I mentioned this to my husband after you posted something similar on your Instagram stories. Our daughter is 9 months old and she is in the 96th percentile for her height and head size. This is also a genetic trait that she inherited from both of our families and not something that she could ever control. He and I specifically said that we wanted to raise her where we spoke positively about all of her features as opposed to saying “you are going to tower over all the other girls” or “your head is so BIG!” because we all know how that can lead to us being self-conscious about our bodies. I am sure we will falter and make mistakes throughout her life as parents, but you mentioning this sparked some really good conversations about how we want to raise her – so THANK YOU! I love these posts talking about real life things…they matter and make a difference.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Thank you! You and your husband will be wonderful parents to baby A and she is so lucky to have you both! I’m so glad that this has sparked good conversation!

  • Jenny says:

    I had no idea that freckles were seen this way in the Asian culture. Thanks for this post.

    I can relate because as a redhead people said the weirdest things to me as a kid. Where did your red hair come from? Are you the mailman’s kid? Why don’t you have freckles like other redheads? I will not even tell you how many strangers walked up and touched my hair. I was teased a lot in school as well. Lastly, my favorite is when people ask me if I am related to a redhead they know (like we are all related).

    • Julie Wampler says:

      That’s such a weird thing to say to someone! All those points you mentioned, in fact! I never really thought about redheads getting a lot of questions but it makes a lot of sense!!

  • Boni says:

    I totally can relate to this. I did not like my freckles when I was younger but now I do! My daughter inherited my freckles. When she was little, a lady at the store told her she had sweet angel kisses on her cheeks (the freckles) and she thought that was pretty cool so thankfully my daughter loves her freckles too!

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Aww that’s so sweet!

  • Camille Innocent says:

    Wow! I resignate with what you are saying at times our family or culture will make you feel insecure about your looks or something that makes you different. Btw I’ve always wished I had freckles. I thought they were cool!

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Thanks! I totally embrace them now. People actually try to get freckles tattooed on their faces these days! How far we’ve come!

  • Uta Z says:

    This is such a sad truth. Words do affect our self esteem, and I certainly wish that all people hurt by words are able to overcome that, in the way that you did. Stupid question: you said you had them lasered off when you were 14, but they are still there. Did they grow back? (My son has one on his face he wants lasered off, so just wondering.)

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Thank you! And no, not a stupid question; I should have addressed it. Yes, they grew back. They’re just lighter in color now. Before they were black, now they’re like a light brown.

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