Faux freckles are currently a major Instagram beauty trend, and I find them absolutely disrespectful and ridiculous. Why? Read on.
It’s true – freckles are not a feature that are exclusive to one race. By definition, freckles are an increase in melanin to the skin due to radiation or UV exposure. This is why a lot of people who have freckles have more in the summer. Often, women with freckles were ridiculed or made fun of as kids because these freckles present another visible of not having completely smooth and uniform skin. When many people think of freckles, they think of very pale white people with red hair – think Lindsay Lohan or Freckle Juice by Judy Blume. But for black women with freckles, the perception and ridicule runs much deeper.
Obviously, I’ve always had freckles, on my face and random spots all over my body. And because I have a lighter complexion, those freckles were always showing OUT in the summer. I never hated my freckles until, as a young child, someone asked me, “Where do your freckles come from?” I said I just have them (freckles never hurt a damn person) – and the child responded to me telling me that I couldn’t be black because black people don’t have freckles. And, that’s simply not true. Black people definitely have freckles, but the truth is that they show up much more prominent and are more noticeable on people with lighter skin tones. My mother and grandparents had freckles – they are all black. I have a cousin with a face full of freckles. Freckles were never foreign to me.
As I became older, it seemed that my freckles were always in the equation regarding how “black” I was. “You’re not even a real black person – you have freckles” or even other black people questioning whether I was the “milk man’s baby” because I had lighter skin than my parents and freckles (and like I said, my MOM has freckles!). As a result of all this bullshit, I came to hate my freckles and wanted to hide them as much as possible. After all, I was questioned enough about my race due to my skin tone, and the freckles just made it worse. I was never into foundation, but would specifically go to the MAC counter and ask for something that “covered up my freckles.” I only started not caring about my freckles a few years ago, and I still get comments about them.
Have you noticed that when you use a smoothing filter on your phone, it fades out freckles, as if they are as bad as a pimple? Freckles are still seen as a skin imperfection and something that should be covered, and apparently something that excludes you from blackness. Years ago, a tumblr site emerged to give black women props with freckles, because apparently we didn’t exist. So, I was hella surprised when women started drawing freckles on their face outside of any homage to Raggedy Ann or Annie.
And I know that freckles are not stereotypically a “black” feature, but when it comes to black women, freckles are very similar to other black features in terms of how they are seen and perceived in society. At the end of the day, much of how we look is a direct representation or misrepresentation of us as black women. And the issue is, a lot of people have issues empathizing with people when something does not apply to them. We see it with white women with braids and locs, and I still see it with freckles, and it’s especially annoying to me because I think other black women would already know how it feels, even if they don’t have freckles.
No, I’m not going to write every beauty magazine featuring faux freckles, but I want you to know, it’s way more beyond a “look” or a simple feature for a lot of us.