Why Having Freckles Is Hard

Freckled people are an unrecognized minority, a group of which I am, for better or worse, a member.

As a child, learning about the world around me and comparing myself to others, trying to decipher how I stacked up, the message that I received was that freckles were different, and different was bad. Freckles are not represented in the media, and doesn’t the media teach us how we’re supposed to look, act, dress, think, and feel? There are very few freckled film and television actors. The ones who do have them are in the closet — they cover them up with makeup (I’m looking at you, Lindsay Lohan and Julianne Moore, and yes I realize that’s probably the only thing you two have in common).

Until very recently, there were no models with freckles. When I was younger, not once did I open the pages of a J. Crew catalog or a Sassy magazine to see a freckled girl staring back at me. I had no visually relatable role models, no one similarly speckled to look up to. Of course I decided to identify with unicorns; creatures deemed “nearly extinct and rarely seen.” These days, a few freckles exist in fashion, usually flaunted by avant-garde designers who like to do out-of-the-box things like book a girl with skin as black as night and photograph her next to an albino. Some freckled models have leaked into that “circus freak chic” clan, which, honestly, doesn’t translate into anything helpful for an everyday freckled chick like me.

Families are always helpful when it comes to abnormalities. My brother liked to chase me around the house with a Sharpie threatening to play connect-the-dots on my face. My dad nicknamed me “Spot” and often rubbed the largest freckle on the tip of my nose “for luck.”

You may not think that having freckles is a big deal. If you think that, it’s because you don’t have them. And please do not be one of those people who says, “Yes I do too have freckles!” and point out, like, ten on the bridge of your nose, ones that look like you were paid a visit by the Cute Fairy one night who blessed you with a teeny pepper shaker’s worth of angel kisses. Don’t give me that.

Do you remember that time you had clusters of zits break out on your face, all in different areas, and you felt so self-conscious that you didn’t want to leave the house? And when you spoke to people, you watched where their eyes went, and you thought, “Oh, they’re looking at the zits on my cheek. Now up to the forehead. And yep, there they go to my chin. God, I’m hideous.”

That’s how I constantly felt when I was younger. I have hundreds of freckles, and it seemed to me like all anyone did was stare at them. At this stage in my life, I often forget that I have them, because, well, life happens, and there are more important things to focus on. But then someone will tell me that I have chocolate in the corner of my mouth (I don’t; it’s a freckle), and I’ll spend a couple of minutes remembering that I look different than everyone else. Don’t bother heading towards me with a wet napkin to rub anything off of my face; it’s all here to stay.

Once I went to get a manicure and the manicurist’s eyes popped out of her head when she saw me. Freckled people don’t exist in all countries, and clearly I was her first. She pulled my sleeves up and examined both sides of my arms, turning them over in her hands, then petting me like a kitten. “What happened to you?” she asked in a thick accent. “Such a shame. Were you burned?” I considered making up a story about a tragic booze cruise that went up in flames, or a fraternity prank gone horribly wrong involving paint balls and gasoline, and trust me, my performance would have been Oscar-worthy, tears free of charge. But I spared her further confusion and just said slowly, “Freh-Kuls. I’m o-kay.” She didn’t look convinced.

Kids ask me all the time what’s wrong with my face. Children lack social awareness, which makes them simultaneously horrible and awesome. Just when I want to turn around in my airplane seat and rip a kid’s feet off for kicking the back of my chair, he asks his mom in a loud voice why that old man is smelly. Or if that big lady is pregnant. I like to tell kids who ask about my freckles that I smoked one cigarette and was cursed from then on with sprouting spots, or that I lied to my parents, or whatever rotten thing they look likely to do. I hope that they’ll avoid whatever I tell them to, in fear of getting freckles. And sometimes I like to open my eyes really wide, act frightened, and say, “No, what’s wrong with your face?” and send them running to a mirror.

My mother assured me that my freckles would fade as I aged. She said that hers did, and I banked a lot of faith and hope in that promise, because she doesn’t have freckles anymore. I now realize that she was either just lying, or was one of those “I do too have freckles!” people, because I can’t find any evidence of freckles in her childhood photos. I have to remind myself that this is the same woman who told me that my two hamsters “ate each other overnight” when I came down one morning to find an empty cage. I spent the next several years trying to imagine how two animals could simultaneously ingest each other, leaving not even a tuft of fur as evidence of such a violent, carnivorous event. She finally overheard me telling someone, like an idiot, that my hamsters had magically swallowed each other, and she admitted that they had kept her awake every night running in their wheel (hamsters are nocturnal, keep that in mind when pet shopping), and she had simply set them free in our backyard. What! That lie had kept me occupied for years.

Thanks, Mom. Here I am, at the age of thirty four, still the owner of many freckles, and zero hamsters. TC mark


More From Thought Catalog

  • Albeards

    Freckles are actually a dominant trait, not recessive. People who have freckles outnumber people who do not. At least that’s what we learned in my college BIO class. I have always been jealous of people with freckles! 

    • http://karyninny.com/ karyn

      Freckles are a dominant trait, yes, meaning that if one parent has them, they will pass the prediliction onto their child, but the majority of people are unfreckled and they mate with an unfreckled person to create another unfreckled person. Freckled people do not outnumber the unfreckled, it’s the other way around, as you can see in your daily life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathanharty Jonathan Hart

    Freckles are sexy as fuck though.

  • Michelle

    I have freckles, and I have never felt this way. Even as a child and teenager, I adored them. Still do! 

  • Guest

    you are thirty four and still consider having freckles to be a big enough problem to warrant a thousand word cry for sympathy and awareness? wow. give me a fucking break. 

    • Rah!

      This is just someone discussing their life.  It’s interesting to hear about other people’s experiences: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/58/Freckled.jpg.  

    • http://karyninny.com/ karyn

      And my hamsters died!!! Two of them!!! No, I don’t want your sympathy. I’m a writer and this is a site called Thought Catalog, where writers come to write about things they think about. Simple as that.

  • Reason

    Shut up.

  • VA

    I don’t have freckles that cover my entire body, but I do have an odd grouping of them on my cheek. My family affectionately calls the spot my “Freckle Patch.” I too have experienced the “you have something on your face” phenomenon. Solidarity, sister.

  • Mashka

    what. I have freckles and I never felt like an outcast. Maybe mine aren’t as prominent. I’m also not a ginger. Once I got accused of being a secret ginger that dyes their hair. Nope- I am just a freak of nature with jet black hair and freckles deal with it people 

    • Laurajaynec

      Yay!! So I’m not alone, I am literally covered from head to toe in freckles, I have thousands of them, and I am also not a red head, I’m naturally dark brown. I get accused of being a “closet ginger” whatever that might mean, nothing against redheads as I love red hair, but I am seriously just plain old dark brown!
      Also ad I have so many freckles, I used to always get picked on at school and stuff, I’ve heard it’s all, freckle face, can I play connect the dots…blah blah. I used to hate them, but now I love them, they r me, and I wouldn’t be the same without them.
      As for people saying you only get freckles when you have sun damage, I got my first freckles at the age of 2, and they just kept coming, my parents always plastered me in high factor 50 suncream, so I disagree with that, I think it was just in my genes and how I was always ment to look is all.

  • http://profiles.google.com/caitlin.o.nelson Caitlin Nelson

    I get freckles mostly on my face, shoulders, arms, hands, knees and butt (I know, right) and I love them. In contrast, the rest of me is starkly white and refuses to gain any color whatsoever — I wish I’d get freckles all over, because at least then the skin on my legs and stomach wouldn’t be transparent.

    The only freckles I’m not particularly fond of are the freckle ‘mustache’ I get when my face gets lots and lots of sun. Though, I hear mustaches are very in right now ;) Mostly I wish I had more!

  • meow

    this is hilarious. two hamsters simultaneously eating each other………

  • lerrato

    try being that “dark as night” girl, as you put it.

    • Mashka

      yea that comment rubbed me the wrong way too 

  • Adélaïde

    you sound like my friend who tried to complain to me that as being a white blond haired-blue eyed woman she faced as much “racism” as black people have in history because people assumed that she was a “dumb bimbo” (which, btw, is how she likes to act). 
    as someone up there said, try being that “black as night” “circus freak chic” girl up there and maybe you’ll understand how it really feels to not fit in because of the way you look. and stop complaining because it’s not a good look, especially on a 34 year old woman (with freckles). 

    • http://karyninny.com/ karyn

      omg you don’t get me, and that’s okay, it’s self deprecation and commentary intended to be humor, i mean i told a hamster story, for the love of god. if you think i’m taking myself seriously then clearly i haven’t succeeded. i am simply trying to make you laugh. regarding taking offense over the “back as night” comment, i’m referring to the sometimes ridiculous nature of the fashion industry, what they make girls like alek wek do for a photo, like “let’s get a really dark girl and put white makeup on her, and get a really white girl and put black makeup on her, yeah, that looks so cool”. peace. http://www.devotedpics.com/album/alek-wek-pictures/alek-wek-miscellaneous/91499/ 

      • Adélaïde

        i guess you didn’t succeed then! whoops! 

  • http://www.nicholeexplainsitall.com EarthToNichole

    As a kid, I HATED my freckles and wished they would fade away. They did as I got older and now the only time they come back is when I go in the sun, which is never.

    Also, judging from your author bio picture, you are very attractive. I envy your gingerness.

  • rose georgia

    when i was younger, until i was 16 in fact, i had a single large freckle in the middle of my top lip. at first it didn’t bother me particularly (i’m not sure when it turned up, possibly at 8 or 9), but as i got a bit older it made me so insecure. sometimes girls i didn’t know at school would tell me i had something on my lip. sometimes in a bitchy way, but  mostly unwittingly. eventually my mum let me get it frozen off by a doctor (though he had to do it twice cos the first time fucked up). it’s still there veeeery slightly, but i constantly fear it’s full return.
    i still have quite a few freckles on my face though. and not a lovely sun kissed sprinkling either. 

  • David Moon

    Having freckles is easy! Step 1: Have freckles. There is no step 2! I’m a pale red-headed guy, and the freckles on my arms and face have morphed into one gigantic beast freckle. Sure, when I was young, kids would harass me occasionally, but that happens to everyone for something or another. Plus, there is no better way to filter out the superficial assholes from your life than to have them show their true personality to you! Now that I’m older, people tell me they like my freckles, which shows it was jealousy all along. Just kidding, of course, but seriously they are cool. I look at them as the clothes that I get to wear when I’m completely naked.

  • annie dink

    i find it amusing that in your main photo on this site, i can’t see a single freckle on your face. stfu.

    • http://karyninny.com/ karyn

      yeah that one is instagrammed. the headline picture above this article is also me.

    • Guest

      It’s call photoshop, honey. were your born yesterday?

  • Mashka

    this is a priveleged white girl problem if ever I heard one 

    • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

      Which is okay, because this is a privileged middle class webzine. TROLL ON!

  • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

    I’m jealous of your freckles. I am jealous of ALL girls with freckles. They seem like such a lovely way to draw attention to your bone structure without having to paint shit all over the place.r

  • http://www.facebook.com/grc15r Gregory Costa

    Freckles are sexy.

    • http://twitter.com/srslydrew Andrew Farr


  • Sophia

    I always wanted freckles and was jealous of people who had them.

    • Guest

      you wouldn’t want them if they covered your whole face.

  • morfelisia

    I hope you use sunscreen religiously! (and glasses, and big hats etc.) Because
    1. You’re one of the first in line for skin cancer
    2. Protection, over time, is likely to diminish your freckle count and lighten them

  • http://twitter.com/ginger_m_face Erin

    I am a redhead covered…..COVERED…..in freckles. I’ve gotten every compliment and insult you could think of. People in other countries asked if they were itchy or natural or some shit like that. They’ll stare in horror as I tell them that I got them from being in the sun. But I’ll tell you what, I’d rather have a million freckles than none at all, because the parts of me without freckles are so pale that you’d swear I live underground all year long. 

  • Anonymous

    Whenever I see freckled people, I immediately think they’re smart.. ?

  • http://www.facebook.com/nicolasa.ortiz Nico Ortiz

    I was told that washing your face with morning dew on May Day would make them go away. 

  • Nico

    My face is covered in freckles, and I have a few here and there over my body. And I love them. In middle school someone thought I got something on my face, but other than that, I don’t notice them unless I’ve been in the sun (and I get excited about them) or when someone occasionally mentions it, and declares they love them.

  • Nico

    “a girl without freckles is like a night without stars.”

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