I’ve always had freckles. They aren’t as noticeable this time of year, but as soon as I step outside on a warm, sunny day, the specks get larger and darker.
I spend a lot of time outdoors during the summer. In my younger days, I remember being out in the sailboat with my dad, who would look at me with concern and state: “you’ve got to start wearing a hat.” What Dad didn’t realize was a hat would severely affect my water activities. A young punk, I was too cool for a hat, not to mention invincible.
About four years ago, I finally started wearing a hat. A recent experience led me to wishing I’d taken Dad’s advice a lot sooner.
I redeemed a gift certificate at a skin clinic. I thought the appointment was going to be fun and games. One thing is true – I was in for quite a surprise.
The appointment began really well. The lady did a face and shoulder massage, which felt amazing. I should have known she was buttering me up for something. Sure enough, after the massage, she took me into a separate room where I stuck my head into a brightly-lit contraption so she could take pictures of my face.
What a nightmare! As the photos were being taken, I envisioned what a zoomed-to-the-max photo was going to look like. I was ready to bolt for the door. Before exposing the terrible sight, the specialist explained my scores were how my skin rated in comparison to other females my age. At that point, even though I didn’t want to see the zoomed photos, I honestly thought I’d score better than most.
The photos showed bacteria as well as each broken capillary, bump and wrinkle on my face. In one image, my skin was shown three layers deep, exposing the damage underneath the surface. These weren’t photos I’d want to post on Facebook. They were disgusting.
As if looking at the photos on a screen wasn’t bad enough, the specialist clicked print and handed me the photos along with the results which prove my skin is worse than a large portion of other women my age. Perfect. Just what I wanted – a collection of photos highlighting my wrinkles and sun damage. This visual would make a great ending to my “Fun in the Sun – Summer 2008” scrapbook.
The skin specialist recommended a seven step program that would significantly reduce the damage.
Seven? A seven step program? I’m lucky if I get around to washing my face at night – a one step program I’ve been utilizing all my life. But seven steps, twice per day? Then she told me the price – just short of $500.
I could handle things up until this point. Really – I was fine. I had refrained from karate-chopping the computer or throwing punches at the specialist. I didn’t even shed a tear. I just sat on the stool, absorbing the information being fed to me.
Then she did the “favor” of pulling up a similar person’s profile. The “before” picture showed a face covered with tons of freckles. This woman looked like my twin! I smiled, remembering that there are others who had been deemed a “freckle-face” since kindergarten. Surely this lady could relate to being used for entertainment as her friends jokingly played connect-the-dots on her face.
Then the specialist exposed the “after” photo. I was horrified. Very faint freckles could be seen around this woman’s jaw, but for the most part, all marks were gone. The specialist babbled something about how now her “new, undamaged” skin has surfaced by using the seven step program.
I pictured myself without my defining characteristic: my freckles. Ever since I stepped foot in the sun, they’ve been a part of me. I’ve listened to delighted older ladies: “oh my, look at those freckles. They’re so cute! I used to have them, but I don’t anymore.” Or the old men who’d tell me the hundreds of “angel kisses” were a sure indication that an angel was in love with me. Or all the cute boys in my class who would fight each other to ask me out because they thought my freckles were “hot.” Err wait… that didn’t happen.
On one occasion, a mother stopped me and introduced me to her daughter, another member of the freckle-face club. “She thinks the world is over because she has freckles,” the mother looked at me as her daughter hid behind her leg. “I want her to see that you can have freckles and be beautiful, too.”
Thanks, lady. Her daughter stared at me. I stared back, knodding as I forced a grin. I had no clue what to say, even though I?could relate to how she felt. Her mother had no idea — at that age, it does feel like the end of the world.
You see, I haven’t always been in love with my freckles. I was teased a lot back in the day.
Freckles are a great conversation starter for others, but just when you forget you have them, some spotless plain-face reminds you that your face looks like a chocolate chip cookie.
It has taken time, but I’m used to them now. In fact, I’ve grown to like them. They’re a part of me and I would never do anything to conceal or remove them. That is what made me so sick at the skin care clinic. Did this lady really want me to try products to reduce what I’ve had all my life? I hadn’t felt that unattractive since my wisdom teeth extraction, which left me with gopher cheeks, chapped lips and an awful taste in my mouth.
Embarrassed of scoring so low on their test, I then experienced their touchup makeup, during which they layered foundation over my face. They covered up my nose, which was red from continuously wiping it, and, of course, my freckles. I felt like a cake face.
As I drove home, I was irritated and confused. Is my skin really that bad? Should I have bought the stuff? Can everyone tell how damaged it is? I started second guessing myself. The confidence which took years for me to build up had been quickly drained and I felt I could only get it back through several $100 bottles of product.
For a moment, I debated investing in this program. I thought of how long it would take me to, twice a day, use their seven products. I’d guess it would probably add up to about a half hour a day. Three and a half hours per week would be spent trying to remove a large part of who I am. No. No. No.
Then I heard it – Natasha Bedingfield’s “Freckles.” It felt like placing the last piece of a 5,000-piece puzzle into its designated spot. In her song, Bedingfield sings “a face without freckles is like a sky without the stars. Why waste a second, not loving who you are? Those little imperfections make you beautiful, loveable, valuable. They show your personality… reflecting who you are.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Shootin’ the Wit is a weekly column about everyday life that should never, ever be taken too seriously.