Lost in Bahrain

Finding my way in this crazy place

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Heckled for my freckles

Posted by drifter on December 6, 2011

I find it slightly strange that people here in the Middle East hate freckles. All freckles. Even teeny weeny freckles. And the freckles they seem to hate the most? Mine.

Okay fine if you don’t like my freckles. But really, do you have to tell me to my face as if they are the most disgusting things in the world! Now in my opinion I am not what you would describe as ‘freckly’, I don’t have one freckle on my body just very light splatterings on my cheeks as a result of my mixed Chinese and English blood. I don’t consider them to be offensive, but apparently everyone else here does.

Take for example the time I went to a beauty salon here in Kuwait for a facial. I was all cosy, kicking back ready to be pampered when I spotted the products the beauty therapist was going to use; Skin whitening cream. I nearly jumped out of my chair as I don’t like any bleach products on my skin let alone my face. I told her I didn’t want to use any skin whitening products.

‘But why madam?’

‘I don’t want lighter skin’

‘Oh but madam, light skin beautiful, take away these marks’. Indicates freckles.

‘But I want to keep them’

‘But madam you look beautiful if no marks, marks ugly’

If there’s one thing the Filipinas here in Kuwait are good at doing its telling you exactly what they think…using the bluntest manner possible in the most tactless manner possible. It is a talent I haven’t quite come to appreciate yet. I insisted on the strawberry smelling face mask and didn’t leave a tip.

My most recent encounter with my usually charming pharmacist didn’t go as usual when he started the conversation by saying:

‘You know you have very pretty face….BUT you have just one problem’


‘These small spots’ and indicates on his face by doing a poking action on his cheeks.

I roll my eyes in my head and can’t believe I am about to have this conversation with a supposedly medical professional. The gist of it was that he thought my face was pretty but it could be upgraded to beautiful if I lost the spots (spots means freckles in Middle East as for some reason people don’t know what freckles means) I told him I liked my spots to which he kind of shrugged in a ‘well, it’s up to you’ kind of way. I was by this time slightly flustered, blushing profusely as I waited for my card payment to go through. I think I was more shocked at the nerve of this guy. Okay fine if that’s what you think but really, this is not something you should say to a woman’s face, unless of course this is some kind of popular Middle Eastern joke where I can’t see the punch line, in which case I am seriously lacking a sense of humour!

Anyway, sensing that I had become uncomfortable with his remarks he states:

‘Okay, okay…your face no problem’.

Oh thanks I say in my head.

‘BUUUUUUT….why be pretty when you can be beautiful!?’ he exclaimed with a pointed finger!

My cheeks burned redder and I stormed out (hopefully in a manner that looked dramatic!) and cursed the pharmacist for making me look for a new chemist to go to.

I do from time to time let these kind of silly comments get to me and feel paranoid that people are repulsed by my freckles when they are talking to me, but I know this is silly and if anything I have only become more defiant when defending my freckles! I know there is never any harm intended and it’s a matter of different cultures. But did anyone ever hear of the word ‘tact’? Well my Egyptian colleague certainly hasn’t.

She told me a story where she had gone to the beach recently during the weekend and had seen a ‘white’ woman with ‘many spots’ on her body. Apparently it was the most disgusting thing she had ever seen and reminded her of a snake. Then she notices the freckles on my cheek, rubs them with her finger and tells me the woman was ‘like you but all on body…your spots are not disgusting just a little bit disgusting’. I thank her kindly for that very nice comment to which she says ‘you’re welcome’ and then asks me what cream I use as my skin is ‘very soft like baby’.

My landlady also thinks I have soft skin, I will never forget her wedding gift to me given 3 months in advance of my big day; 3 tubes of ‘Fair and Lovely’ whitening cream. I thanked her kindly, assured her I would try to get a ‘lighter complexion’ and then chucked them in the bin.

Don’t worry freckles, everyone else hates you, but I love you!


One Response to “Heckled for my freckles”

  1. Yay! I am glad you’re all for the freckles. I have a face FULL of them. I mean all over full. I must admit that I often curse them, there are too many and I would prefer a sprinkling than looking like I sunbathed under a colander, but it’s sort of said in jest as I’m quite fond of them really. They’re what makes me me! I would be utterly offended by these comments and don’t blame you for feeling angry – how unbelievably rude! I understand cultural differences but this is beyond that – comparing someone freckly to a snake is blatantly insulting. Hmph! I shall be showing off my freckly friends as much as possible this week in support!


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