Freckles....I have lots of them! As a kid I remember the single band of freckles stretching across my nose to my cheeks. I never thought much about my freckles, in fact, I kind of liked them...they were ME!
Once I hit my teens my freckles continued to repopulate...if there was a blank canvas, a freckle was sure to appear. I thought my freckles were cool and made me different, unique, interesting.
That is until the day I read an article in one of those high fashion magazines with all those impractical clothes and models that look angry all the time The article read, "Freckles...a sign of sun damage!"
I continued to read about how freckles were sun damage, how to prevent getting freckles and the various creams and goos I could use to cover up one's freckles. My thought, "Why would I want to cover up my freckles?"
I unwittingly tried one day to make my spots disappear at one of those fancy make-up counters in the department store where my girlfriend and I were trying on new "faces" for the day. The girl at the counter slathered my face with concealer, then foundation and more Spackle then one could imagine. By the time I exited with my coral colored lips (that is a blog in itself) and my flesh colour geisha face, I thought, "Nope...too much effort, I like my freckles"
My next adventure with my freckles took me to an airport awaiting a flight unaware of the predatory stare being directed my way. She pounced. "You have spots" the lady said. "Yes", I explained, "they are called freckles" finding it odd that I am explaining this to a grown woman but I thought I'd enlighten her on the topic. "They are NOT attractive" the next words out of her mouth. Silence.
...thinking of varied responses, ranging from crying to ripping in to her...I took the high road and explained my Scottish heritage and talked about how my Grandpa, mom and now me get to carry the arms of Scotland by our red hair and freckles. Unphased, the lady continued schooling me on my "liver spots", my urgent need to visit a doctor, and how I could try using bleach to get rid of them. I continued to shrink in my seat...my vacation destination taking the back seat. Once she finally left, I pretended like nothing happened and carried on with my day...except she resonated with me...as did the angry models, and the make-up guru.
I started to dislike my freckles especially every spring when they synchronized their coming out party with my tulips. I started to wear foundation in attempt to hide them for years...to no avail. I slathered on SPF 50 so my face turned a pale shade of white...but they continued to pop out! It was a battle...one that my freckles were winning.
But then something miraculous happened...
Olay had an ad with....a girl with Freckles!!!! Yes there she was with her beautiful spotted skin advertising for anti-wrinkle cream! Then there were more...California babes with cut-off shorts and freckles! DOVE soap - Freckles, The GAP - freckles, Benetton - FRECKLES!! We were making a revolution! Acceptance at last!
It is not because of these ads that I liked my freckles again (although it was encouraging)...it was because of age and gradual wisdom that comes with aging that I like my freckles. I've learned that freckles hide wrinkles (take that botox), I've learned freckles make me look youthful and I've learned that freckles are ME!!
I like little kids pointing out my freckles and getting to chat with them, I like when my freckles pop out in spring, it means great weather is around the corner, I like my freckles melding together, it means I was outside most of the summer enjoying the great outdoors. Freckles are my fun thermometer...more freckles, more fun was had! I'm loving my freckles the older I get.
Society will always show us who to idolize and idealize (via magazines, commercials, movie stars) but it is up to us to choose whether we fall into those traps. How many people are walking around with a modelesque body, whiter than snow teeth, and tresses that have no grey, shimmer in the sun and blow in the wind...NOT I!!!
I think alopecia is much like freckles in a way. You learn over years to live with it, accept it, and to appreciate it for the beauty it has. There are always going to be those that are not educated about alopecia out there and who make comments about us "being in treatment", but, it is our job to help educate them (as tedious as this can be sometimes).
If we all keep a stronghold on our beliefs that alopecia is beautiful...maybe one day we'll see more bald women and men grace the pages of magazines!
One thing I know for sure...I'll never be as skinny as one of those angry models...and who cares, I like smiling anyway!