Photo: Paula Aparicio
By Sarah Jones, Orange, New South Wales
I have been dealt a cruel hand in life… I have freckles.
Fat ones, speckly ones, ones with abstract shapes, lonely ones that interrupt the landscape of white skin and social ones that form groups so that I have dark clusters.
They multiply in chlorine and turn green under sunburn.
The unsightly blemishes are my father’s fault, or rather, the fault of his DNA.
In the family gene pool lottery, I was the loser. My sisters inherited smooth tans and blonde hair, but not me.
Instead, I was given the melanocortin 1 receptor MC1R gene variant.
In other words, my life was destined to be miserable from birth.
My friends often made quips about them, which they thought were witty, but I had heard them all before.
No, if I keep getting freckles, they will not join up and make a tan.
Not only did I have to endure this from my peers, but also from adults.
One parent used my face as a deterrent for their child who would not wear a hat – “You’ll get freckles like Sarah if you aren’t careful.”
I became very skilled at feigning laughter and pretending not to be offended.
Nowadays, I am lucky.
My freckled face has faded. The brown pigments do not contrast so harshly against my skin anymore. The horror of my childhood is getting fainter, and I can see a ray of hope.
I am smarter now. I wear sunscreen outside, because I know that even ten minutes on a sunny day will scorch my skin like meat on a barbeque.
My moisturiser has SPF30 in it, and I have an array of hats for different occasions, because my greatest fear is finding a melanoma on a patch of skin that got particularly burnt as a child.
Of course, there are many good things from my dad’s side.
He gave me his green eyes. He gave me the passion to stand up for myself.
He gave me courage.