Now more than ever, I feel it is important to find ways to honor the diverse beauty and the unique stories that surround us. After a brief hiatus, our freckles series is back. I am so happy to have Dionne (the mom of River’s best girlfriend) on LaTonya Yvette today.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am the proud owner of Brooklyn Blend Management Services, located in my beloved Brooklyn. After working 15 years in my field, I’m elated to finally do this on my own. I was born in Georgetown, Guyana, and migrated to the US (East Flatbush Brooklyn) in 1988, which makes me a Guyanese girl with a Brooklyn heart. I enjoy hosting, entertaining — basically anything involving large groups of people eating my food.
What has your relationship been like with your freckles?
I (now) love my freckles; they actually didn’t become visible (darker) until age 12 or 13, starting on the bridge of my nose then spreading across my face. Imagine dealing with puberty, exploding freckles. It was rough from junior high through high school. I was either called Poppy Long Stockings, Connect the Dots or Speckled Banana. Funny now, but then I just wanted to make them lighter so that they would go unnoticed, or at the very least stop them from spreading. In high school I recall considering using dark spot fading cream. After reading the side effects, I quickly changed my mind and decided that good, healthy skin with freckles is the way to go. In college my freckles became invisible to me and popular in a good way, and after years of staring at them I was only reminded when strangers would comment on how great they are.
I keep my beauty routine very simple. For years I’ve washed my face with (Nigerian) black soap and moisturized with whipped Shea butter with coconut oil, which my dear friend Tejumade makes. In my early 30s I developed Psoriasis on my face and ears, and after trying several medications and topical creams, black soap and Shea butter worked like magic. On a recent trip I forgot my beauty essentials at home, made an emergency trip to the local drug store, raided the skincare section, compared every product and bought the Aveeno Positively Radiant 60 Second in-shower facial and daily clear complexion moisturizer. I absolutely fell in love. It makes your skin feel super smooth, clean and fresh. The moisturizing lotion give me a nice glow and contains SPF 15, which is essential for freckled faces. Before bed, I use Klay Botanics anti-aging glow oil, which is non-greasy and packed with Vitamin E, Omega 6 fatty acids. I generally only wear makeup on my eyes, and lips. For special events, or when I need a more polished look, I use Neutrogena Nourishing Long Wear Light Coverage foundation because it’s great for my skin and gives me just enough coverage without masking my freckles.
Are there instances where you felt like the “other” because of rarity of your freckles?
Yes, when I discovered I’m the only one in my entire family with freckles, or when someone asks, “What are you mixed with? Where are you from?” For awhile I felt like these were prerequisites for having freckles. In later years I came to realized that most people don’t know how freckles are formed, or that genetically freckles started to appear in the human genotype when humans started to leave Africa, and then later carried into Asia. Now, ironically, I often get asked if they are real. Apparently tattooing freckles is a real thing in 2018.
What do you think is the best thing about having freckles?
Having freckles definitely sets you apart. Freckles give you a youthful, playful look, and men love them! The artistic side of me loves having the splash of black on my face. I love that they stand out, even more during summer and pregnancy. I actually tried to count my freckles once, but lost track around 70 or so. But in doing that, I realized how truly unique they are, in terms of placement, shape color and sizes. My very own built-in branding.
Are there any real differences in the beauty standards that surrounded you as a child that now surround your child?
Raised as a Seventh-day Adventist there wasn’t much focus on beauty or makeup in my household. No makeup, jewelry or adornment. I remember getting my ears pierced for the first time at 16 — this was after years of begging and bargaining with my mom, who to this day still doesn’t have her ears pierced, much like the women in my family. In Guyana, women were more natural, the focus or emphasis was on clothing and shoes. My mom would always say you have to look your best, even if you’re just going to the market because you never know who you’re going to meet. I want my daughter to discover who she is on her own —her ears are not pierced because I believe she should make that decision. I do worry for my daughter because society places a lot of emphasis on body image, needing look perfect, or creating the illusion that you are. Growing up I didn’t have these pressures or YouTube. Therefore, I constantly work on building a foundation of communication with my daughter. We often have conversations about about beauty, makeup, hair and freckles. So far, she loves her hair straight or curly, she can’t wait to wear lipstick and hopes that she gets freckles. Last winter, I caught her drawing freckles on her face with my eyeliner, because she was tired of waiting and wanted to see how they would look now. I have to say it was one our best moments.
Any other beauty myths or quirks that you hope people break and/or embrace?
I truly hope that people start to think beyond themselves and more toward the future and how the beauty standards we are creating today will impact our children. Differences should be celebrated and not contoured. The focus should me more on inner beauty, taking care of our minds and nourishing our souls. Promote more self awareness and acceptance.
(Photos by Heather Moore for LaTonya Yvette. Thank you so much, Dionne!)