I have never thought of myself as particularly ‘special’. I’m pretty average looking, I am of average height, and although I sometimes carry a few extra kilograms (that I’ve become an expert at hiding), I am of average weight too.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love who I am and what I look like, but it hasn’t always been like that. My late primary school and high school days were rough. I often thought that someone had a pretty good sense of humor when I was made.
I had acne, braces, ginger hair and what seemed to be the two biggest targets for my peers; very pale skin and a lot of freckles. To give you an indication of what I mean by pale – I am basically one shade away from being the shade of your translucent powder. Yeah, I’m not joking.
As a ‘pure breed’ ginger, my entire family had the pale skin and freckles. So growing up it was never a big deal for me. To the grownups, I was always the adorable girl with the even more adorable freckles. My early primary school was the same story – cute kid, cute freckles.
Things started changing in a big way in Grade 6. I have come to the conclusion that this is likely when kids start developing and cultivating their a**hole gene. I have heard it all: “Don’t you bath?”, “Do you have a disease?”. The killer though: “Did you cover your face with a sieve when your parents flung poo at you?” I mean REALLY, REALLY! How do kids come up with this?
My pale skin always came with comments. I never understood why other people cared so much about the shade of my skin or the freckles that adorn them. They are mine, not yours so why are you making it your problem. I hated my skin, the one thing that made up 80% of my body and I hated it. On multiple occasions I’ve had people asking me why I am so pale. Well, why are you so tan?
The sun was enemy number one. Even 10 minutes without decent sunscreen wasn’t an option. I tried everything to get my skin to be the perception of normal. Foundation to cover up the freckles, spray tans, sunbed session after sunbed session, the endless and painful sunburn, and all I ended up with was exhaustion and low esteem.
As I got older I learned that it wasn’t worth losing sleep over. I was doing more harm than good. I can’t change my skin, and in case you didn’t know, you have your skin your whole life. Once I realized that, life became a lot easier. I still get a bit uncomfortable as summer approaches, and the thought of wearing dresses gives me the heebie-jeebies, but I get over it. I am not going to shy away from living my best life because of a lack of skin pigmentation.
I love my freckles. They are my favourite part of me, and my skin is MY skin. I may never be a tanned queen, but I am a pale queen. People will still make comments, but it doesn’t bother me anymore. Loving myself and my genetic make-up is more important to me than floating opinions. I don’t regret how I was treated when I was at school. It made me stronger, as cliché as that sounds. Now I can make jokes about the fact that I shouldn’t be left in the sun for too long or the need to find some shade stat. I have fun with my life and I am happy. I am happy!