Bullied for Her Freckles, Nikia Phoenix Has Learned to Embrace the Skin She’s In

Nikia Phoenix.
Nikia Phoenix’s face is full of very prominent freckles. (Photo: Getty Images)

A recent beauty trend has women around the world tattooing freckles onto their skin. With that in mind, it’s safe to say the spots are more accepted and embraced than ever in today’s society.

Nikia Phoenix — model, writer, and founder of Black Girl Beautiful — grew up with freckles all over her skin. She recently shared an image on her Instagram account of her face covered in the skin spots and mused about the influence of the marks throughout her life.

Because her freckles are so prominent, Phoenix’s appearance has always been defined by them. They’ve not only helped her to embrace her true self, but they’ve also shaped her as a person.

As a child and teenager, Phoenix often felt that she didn’t fit in because of her spots. “Even to this day, I hear little kids asking their parents, ‘Mommy, what’s wrong with her face?’ I laugh because they’re little kids and they don’t know any better, but when I was a kid and someone would say something similar to that to me, I would get offended,” she tells Yahoo Beauty.

Phoenix feels that there is a misconception in society relating to her skin tone and her freckles. “I’m an African American person with freckles. For some odd reason — even though this does appear on a lot of us — people don’t traditionally think that African Americans would have freckles,” she says.

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A post shared by Nikia Phoenix (@nikiaphoenix) on Nov 17, 2016 at 6:57pm PST

“But when I look around at my family — we have freckles. So I didn’t think that there was anything strange about it until I would walk out of my door to go to school and kids would point at me and laugh, saying, ‘You’re not black. You have freckles’ or, ‘There’s something wrong with you.'”

To overcome these hateful comments at a young age, Phoenix explains that she internalized a lot of her feelings.

“I would go home to my mother and cry, or I would try to be tough and suck it up. Because you can’t defend yourself against people who are irrational. I think if you’re picking on someone for something that they obviously cannot help — their skin, their complexion — you are being irrational,” she says. “I knew that there was no arguing with them. I just had to deal with them. That meant that I internalized it. It festered like a sore and affected my self esteem.”

In fact, sharing the negative experiences with her mother strengthened their relationship and helped them better understand each other.

“I believe that my mom and I helped each other get through that because when she saw what I was going through as a kid — the same torment and ridicule — it took her back to what she went through. She was able to really sympathize with what I was going through and give me guidance from a place of love and understanding,” she says.

Although Phoenix experimented with different foundations to try to cover up her spots during her teen years — like her mother did — she ultimately grew to love her unique physical attribute.

“My freckles helped me realize that there’s nothing wrong with being an individual,” she says. “There’s nothing wrong with being different. I used to hold my head down. Then I started to slowly lift my chin, roll my shoulders back, and stare people dead in their faces. This is who I am, and I can’t change that. I don’t want to change that — freckles and all.”

For the beauty aficionados that are turning to makeup to draw freckles onto their skin — Phoenix definitely isn’t backing the trend.

“It bothers me because all of the sudden freckles are trendy, freckles are beautiful,” she says. “When I was a kid, that was not the case at all. Every naturally freckled person has a story about being picked on for his or her freckles. Now people are getting these tattoos and drawing on freckles. It really, really frustrates me,” admits. “I’m definitely one of those people who embraces all forms of beauty and celebrates beauty — and I celebrate freckles — but I want other people to celebrate freckles in an authentic way. If you don’t have them, then you don’t have them. Please don’t draw them on.”

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