Freckles and Scabs: Beauty’s Misfits

There’s a woman I work with who fascinates me for many, many reasons but I’ll give you my top two. First, she has millions of freckles and I not only love freckles, but am waiting for some to magically appear on my body. When I was a child I saw a movie featuring Pippi Longstocking, and she said that freckles were left over marks from sunburns. Whether this is true or false is of no importance – no need to prove/disprove something that I’ve clung to for over twenty years. However, I am certain that this isn’t the case for little black girls like me.

I personally tested this theory for two years straight. Every beach trip starting at the age of six had the same goal layered in: to burn myself and produce freckles. Pippi Longstocking had them all over her body, but I only needed them in the “T-zone” on my face, a line of them spread over my nose and under my eyes. I knew that I could maximize my cuteness if I could be the owner of fifty or so little freckles on my face. People would be compelled to buy me more presents on holidays. “Put on your sunblock,” my mother would tell me before leaving me alone on the blanket to make that inevitable trip back to the car for whatever it was she had forgotten.

“I did,” I lied, every single time. She’d go to lean in and look me over and I would lay on my back yelling “I did!”, wiggling my legs in the air so she could see the white paste on them. I was fully lathered from the waist down, a potential victim of the hole in the ozone layer from there up. But no matter how much my skin ached and peeled in the days following, no freckles appeared. It is still what I consider the first great disappointment in my life.

The second reason this woman holds my attention much longer than most of the people I’ve found wandering throughout our three floors is that she’s a “systems person”. She likes goals, excels spreadsheets, graphs, that sort of thing. I used to hate them, until I learned from her how easy things get when you simplify your work. Every week she asks us to list a “high” and a “low”, and then gauge why xyz was a good thing or a bad thing.

So in my personal life, the “high” was eating bacon every single day last week – and we’re talking 4-8 slices per sitting – and still losing three pounds. I’d like to give a sincere thank you to Atkins, that God-send who figured that out before the rest of us. And the “low” would be that my head has three lakes – lakes if my head were the earth – of scabs. I know, I know, it sounds terrible. Let me assure you it sounds worse than it is. It’s merely a part of being a woman with kinky hair who chooses to put a chemical relaxer in her hair. Apparently eating bacon all the time and working out ferociously until your head sweats causes your scalp to be irritated when you put relaxer chemicals on it. They’ll be gone shortly, but until then I can only use a comb on my hair.

I regret that this post has been so focused on female topics, so I just ever so briefly want to add that the comments I get about putting chemicals in my hair have increased as the trend of ‘going natural’ picks up. I support this trend – I support anything that enhances natural beauty and makes a person feel good about themselves – and am happy for those (like my own gorgeous roommate) who want to embark on this journey. But as for me, I am defined in part by my individuality, and I will never stop straightening my hair. Ever. And I’m always perplexed as to why people try to convince me otherwise.

I am a freckle-less,temporarily scab-having, thin person. So help me God.


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