Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Vanity (11/15/18)
TITLE: Beyond Freckles
By Donna Powers
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I know “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, but you’d never know that; to listen to the kids at my school. I’ve been called everything from “Measles Face” to “Spot” by the kids at school, and I’ve come to hate my freckles.
Mama tells me, “God created you just as you are, and true friends will accept you as you are.” But it’s hard to always be the one who’s always laugh at.
It’s easy for Mama to talk. Daddy loves her wholeheartedly. Daddy must be a freckle-lover; because you’d think Mama was the Queen of Sheba by the way he looks at her.
Every couple of weeks, Mama and Daddy go out to dinner. On those nights, Mama takes extra care with her appearance. She sits in front of her beautiful old vanity and paints her face with lipstick, eye shadow and blush. I love to watch her: it’s as if her cloud of talcum powder is fairy dust, and each makeup item is a magic wand. When she steps up from the vanity, her freckles are subdued and she looks - to me - like she’s ready to model for a magazine.
Oh, how I craved that same transformation. I’d watched Mama countless times; and studied how she wielded each item. I’d longed for the day Mama would allow me to transform my own face. But she’d always said I was too young for makeup.
One evening, after an especially trying day at school (including the humiliation of taking school pictures and being taunted by several classmates that I might break the camera) I just couldn’t take it any longer. Once Mama and Daddy had left and our babysitter was distracted by a telephone call from her boyfriend, I went into their bedroom and sat down in front of the vanity mirror.
I tried to do it right. I really, really did. I tried to use each item in the same way I’d seen Mama do it - or at least I thought l did. But instead of transforming me into more beautiful me, I ended up looking like a nightmarish clown.
I felt defeated. Why hadn’t I been transformed? I burst into tears; further smearing my already-disastrous makeup mess, and buried my face in my hands.
And, of course, I was still sitting dejectedly at that vanity, sobbing my mascaraed eyes out - when Mama walked in.
“Oh, Mama,” I cried. “I’m sorry! I know you said I couldn’t use makeup, but I had to try!”
“Oh, sweetie,” she said. She looked at my kaleidoscope face and I could tell she was biting her tongue to keep from laughing. But all she said was, “Why did using makeup mean so much to you?”
“Because when you do it, it makes your freckles not matter. It makes you so beautiful, Mama. And I’m just so tired of people seeing only my freckles.”
She scooted next to me on the bench, and gathered me into her arms. “Oh, Maggie, I don’t put on make up because of how it makes me look. I put it on because of how it makes me feel.”
“Well, yeah, Mama. I want to feel different, too. I want to feel beautiful.”
She hugged me tightly. “Let me show you something, Maggie.” She reached into a drawer and pulled out an old photo. I recognized it as one of her school photos, from when she was around my age. In it, she was smiling broadly despite a face covered in freckles. Her resemblance to me was uncanny.
“You see, Maggie?” she said. “I know how it feels to be a freckled teenager. But I decided when I was your age to accept the beauty God placed inside my soul - and to show that in the way I lived my life.”
I was still confused. “But if looks don’t matter, why wear makeup?”
Mama laughed. “It’s just part of dressing up - and I enjoy dressing up.”
I grimaced. “So I’m stuck with my freckles, then.”
Mama nodded, but reminded me, “You’re still the beautiful girl God created you to be, and if you show people that beauty, then anyone who doesn’t see that deserves your prayers rather than your attention.”
I hugged her. “OK, Mama, I’ll try. For now, though, I’d better wash this stuff off. I don’t want to push my luck.”
1 Peter 3:3-4 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment… rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight
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