THE BLOG

Your Face Looks Like My Dalmatian...

20/04/2017 14:53 BST | Updated 20/04/2017 14:53 BST

I moved to a very sunny Pretoria on my 6th birthday. My parents thought a warm - outdoors climate would be great for the family.

It was a wonderful experience and I loved every minute. My very fair Scottish skin did not take too kindly at all to the glorious sun... My face developed what I felt at the time were the ugliest freckles. They were huge and sporadic. They had no regular path or shape. If they had I may not have been so conscious of them.

They appeared within a year of me being there. No one around me or at my school looked anything like me... I began to hate my own face.

Often I would catch others sniggering at me. But what could I do apart from put my head down? I was very shy at the best of times. It really blocked my confidence as a child.

We had no sunscreen - only zinc which would be smeared over my nose only if we were ever at a beach. Continually getting heat stroke and severely burnt. So each day they grew bigger and browner.

Hours of scrubbing at them with anything rough. I would even scrub at my face with dirt and mud from the garden when I was out playing.

I made potions from flowers as I read somewhere if you soaked Dandelions the juice would make them fade. If I read anything anywhere to try and take them off. I obviously had no idea about melanin. But of course nothing worked.

When we moved back to Scotland I would go to my best friend's house and her brother would say I looked like his Dalmatian dog. There was another occasion where a guy said it looked like someone held a sieve at my face and threw shit. I just laughed it off - but obviously inside was very upset as I already knew how strange I looked and felt.

These comments affected me on many levels. I rarely looked people in the eye at the best of times - but this made me feel even worse as I assumed everyone must be thinking the same way about me.

I would look at so many people's faces and wish I looked like every single other person over me...I felt everyone in the world looked better than me. They were all perfect. I felt everyone must look in the mirror each day and smile. Where I rarely looked in the mirror.

The way I coped was to try and be perfect at various other things. Dancing, swimming and gymnastics. I would practice for hours at all of those. I would ultimately become very ill with anorexia - but that's a different story.

At school photo time I would make all sorts of excuses not to have a picture taken as I hated looking at my face so much. When I was forced into having it taken I would hide them from anyone who ever came in the house.

In fact I hid one of those very photos that had been made into key ring until this week when I found it .... The emotions I felt when I saw it were very sad. I looked at myself as an 8 year old and felt so sad as remember the shame I felt of my own face. I'm just a wee girl trying to make friends and be happy.

Today however is a very different story...I love them - I've embraced them - they are me. I've never tanned in my life. I only ever go red and peel. But that's who I am. I'm not a sun worshiper as I can't handle the heat - but that's ok. I just swim instead.

I've finally accepted myself with all my flaws.

Acceptance and contentedness is the best and most liberating feeling in the world.

My children love the freckles as they say it makes me unique - they are not at all biased.

Two years ago at an art degree show I saw the most incredible photographs. The models were bare faced - flaws on show and they were all strikingly beautiful and natural.

I knew I would need a professional photo one day for my website and I just felt It had to be by this photographer if any.

Her name is Alison Wright and she is Scottish. A beautiful red haired, freckled beauty who indeed is fascinated by freckles and the interesting depth they bring to photographs.

There is another photographer called Mr Elbank who does incredible photos of people from across the world who have various skin tone differences. They are some of the most beautiful pictures I've seen in my life. Graham Norton is just one of his stunning subjects. One day I would love to have one taken by him too.

Needless to say I found having my photos taken very intimidating - but I was very happy with the results. Now I can show the photo knowing I love my freckles and would not change them for the world. In fact when I see others with freckles I feel so happy...

Tina x

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