Despite my attempts to be as sun-smart as possible, every summer I am left with a face covered in freckles.
An unavoidable phenomenon with those who have red-headed genes, freckles are something we're normally taught to hate. They're "sun damage". An ugly sprawling of tan dots on the body that – when the full intensity of the hot season comes around – often join together to become brown blotches that resemble countries on a globe of the world.
I once despised my freckles. As a teenager I remember seeking out (but never actually buying) skin-bleaching creams to wipe them off my face. I thought they looked like blemishes, making me immediately stand out because the majority of people around me had uniform, porcelain skin; unencumbered by these evil little brown spots.
Yet I grew up in and around the beach, so keeping them at a minimum during the summer was never an option. I could wear hats and high SPFs and still, just being outside caused my freckles to explode.
With this corker of a summer, right now I am more freckled than ever. They've taken over my nose, my cheekbones, my forehead. They're on my ears and my chin and there are even a few on my lips. I am one big walking freckle.
My freckles aren't something I'm ashamed of anymore. Do I love them? That might be a bit strong. I am confident in them, though. I have taught myself to appreciate how different they make me. Being freckled is part of my personality; it's who I am, and it's something I can never change. I might as well feel proud of them.
The first time I saw Eddie Redmayne in a film (about seven or eight years ago) was the beginning of my freckly confidence growth.
Redmayne has even more freckles than I do. They're even visible through his stage make-up. That's one of the reasons this now-Oscar-winning man has such a large fan base: people love his sun-kissed face. Watching Redmayne on a big screen for the first time – and observing a cinema of mostly young women swooning for two hours – gave me pride, because my face looks like that too.
Few other celebrity men seem to have let their freckles explode on the silver screen, which is perhaps why freckled guys like me have always felt a bit ostracised. We simply don't see ourselves represented very often. However, there's definitely a market for guys like us, as posited in the likes of this Buzzfeed article, "35 Insanely Hot Guys Whose Freckles Will Give You Life".
Freckly women, on the other hand, have been celebrated since the beginning of the 2000s. I remember a distinct change in the way women's magazines portrayed freckles in fashion shoots. In the 1990s they were airbrushed out, but from the early 21st Century through to today, beautiful women like Lucy Liu, Sienna Miller, Alicia Keys, Olivia Munn, Emma Stone and Alia Shawkat have had their freckles untouched. This trend, I'd say, gave a lot of other freckled women assurance about their own complexions.
As an adult covered in freckles, people without them compliment you in real life, too. This certainly helps in learning to love them. I often find that those with flawless skin seem to like my freckles the most – some people are even envious of them; they'll say they make you look cute, adorable, even sexy.
Yet nobody ever talks about learning to love freckles. I doubt there's anybody out there who has always appreciated their spotty, sun-smeared face. So hopefully other regular, non-famous, freckly people like me are learning to be at peace with them. If for no other reason than this: having freckles is the most unique physical trait you can have. It's literally impossible for another human being to have the same map of freckles as you. Embrace that, because – unlike us – everybody else's unflawed skin makes them a little closer to being ordinary.