Minutes of sun a spot of bother no more

STEPHANIE WOOD
Last updated 05:00 28/12/2013

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I didn't read Pippi Longstocking when I was a kid. I wish I had. Because I would have discovered that my freckles didn't make me a freak.

Should you need a reminder, Pippi Longstocking, a feisty fictional lass created by Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, embraced her freckles.

She spurned the ''freckle salve'' which might have relieved her of her freckled suffering.

It's a miserable state of affairs when Pippi Longstocking is a better role model for an insecure, red-headed, freckled child than Nicole Kidman.

Should you need a reminder: Kidman's career started when she romped through a jolly little film called Bush Christmas, all freckles and wild curls and annoying Australian accent.

But Kidman's freckles didn't last (nor, for that matter, did the annoying Australian accent).

The actor's transmogrification into plastic avatar included a full and complete freckle wipe-out. Try finding one now on that perfect brow or nose.

Still, today's freckled girls can seek reassurance that they're not alone with a quick online search: ''Eight celebrities who embrace their freckles'' (evidently they couldn't find 10), ''learn to love your freckles'', ''eight fun facts about girls with freckles'' ...

When I was a freckled kid, suffering through an Australian summer, the internet was barely a twinkle in a computer scientist's eye.

My sources of information were in-your-face: a few minutes too long in the sun, and I glowed like an inebriated shopping-centre Santa; as the days wore on, the mirror reflected a rapid spread of the blight from nose, across cheeks and forehead and down to jawline and chin.

And if the mirror didn't give me enough pain, my golden-tanned, coconut-oiled friends, flipping themselves languidly from front to back on their beach towels, passed on a bit more as I watched them bitterly from whatever shaded cranny I could find.

That was hardly the end of my summer suffering.

Mine was a Before, During and After of pain: before, when a beach or pool excursion required an operation of military zeal to slather my milky-white body with sunscreen; during, when to spend more than five minutes in the water, I needed to wear a T-shirt for coverage which billowed and dragged as it grew heavy with water and left me looking like a sea monster trailing fabric appendages; after, when, despite all precautions, I frequently turned into a piteous lobster.

I'd like to report though, that things have improved. Some Australians celebrate the invention of the Hills Hoist, of Vegemite. I celebrate the recent invention of the rashie.

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I celebrate the ocean swim as the sun gives up for the day. And I celebrate my freckles. Because I don't need Pippi Longstocking to tell me that a freckled face is better than the blank canvas of a plastic princess.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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