I Was Bullied For My Freckles — Now I'm Booking Jobs With Them

For some, a lipstick is just a lipstick. But for others, it's a source of strength, creativity, and expression. In our series Power Faces, we'll explore the relationship between strong women and the makeup they choose to wear — or not. Our ninth subject, Melody Mikél, is a model living in Denver. The following was told to Cat Quinn and edited for length and clarity.
My mom looks just like me and owns a hair salon, so I grew up in the beauty industry. We would go to the beauty supply store together and people would always approach us, point at our freckles, and say, “Hey, I know how to get rid of that.” And we’d be like, “What’s that?” And they’d be like, "The stuff on your face.” Then we’d say, “We’re not looking to get rid of that. Thank you.”
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Kids can also be cruel. When I was younger, I was a super-fast runner. I ran track and my older brother would always tell his friends, “I’m too fast for you, but if you can beat my sister, I’ll race you.” So kids would make fun of me and call me "cheetah." Which, to be honest with you, is kind of a compliment because they are very beautiful and majestic creatures.
Photographed by Samantha Keller. Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.
Photographed by Samantha Keller,
Bright Side
Even when kids made fun of me and I cried going home, my mom always told me, ‘Don’t be sad. You have angel kisses. Angels come and kiss you at night. That’s something great — wear them proud.” My grandma instilled confidence and self-love in her, so I never saw my mom trying to cover her freckles up with makeup. Even if she wanted to, there weren't foundation options for her then. Our faces are really light and our freckles are really dark, and if you wear a lighter foundation, it just creates a dusty tone that's not appealing.
But I do remember lipsticks. We loved lipstick because it was fun and colourful and something we could play with together. I think every woman loves a red lip. There’s just something about it that makes us all feel a fierceness within ourselves.
I prefer a brick red as opposed to a ruby; I love that it's warm and inviting. I have a warm personality and I think that’s what I project by wearing darker tones year-round on my lips. I’ll choose a dark red or purple lip liner to go with it, which makes the lipstick look a little deeper and brings all the tones of my face together.
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Photographed by Samantha Keller. Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.
Glow Getter
I have a history with glitter because I was a cheerleader. Back then, glitter was not as popular as it is now, so I would use lip gloss, which was super-sticky and terrible. As I've gotten older, I like to thin my glitter shadow out a bit so it's more of a natural, festive look. I put on a tiny bit and spread it like crazy until you almost can't see it. People will do a double take and be like, Wait, are you glistening right now? Yes. Yes I am. I like to wear it during the day and also to concerts, when it's dark and the lights are on you and it gives you that something extra.
Photographed by Samantha Keller.
Glitter makes me feel really fun and glitzy and happy. When you’re in a good place within yourself, you project being a good person into the world and you feel good about the things you're doing. In a way, that's how you get your power back. When I’m completely in my element and in my zone, I feel like I can accomplish anything.
I love makeup and how it can make you change and be versatile and bring out another personality within yourself. For a long time, I would tell people, Oh, I don’t wear makeup because nothing is really out there for me. And now there’s everything out there for me, and I feel more invited to the party. But even with glitter and highlighter and lipstick, I do still like to make freckles the focus. I always say that God did my makeup first, so everything I do around that is just me having fun.
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Photographed by Samantha Keller. Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.
Skin In The Game
For so long, people treated me like I was unhealthy and had a skin disorder, and now freckles are deemed healthy and beautiful. It's really a mindfuck. I still haven't quite figured out how I feel about fake freckles. Originally, I was a little hurt by the trend, because just two weeks ago, you were all making fun of something I can't get rid of — and don't want to get rid of. And now you're putting them on your face because someone said it was cute. Do I want everyone to have freckles? Yes. But the bullied kid in me was hurt at first. You hated them on me, you cried when you saw them on me because you thought you were going to get them, too... And now you're going to draw them on for today, and wash them off tomorrow and move on with your life if they're not cute anymore?
Photographed by Samantha Keller. =
I didn't grow up seeing representations of myself — even today there isn't someone specific I can name. My mom and my older brother are the only ones who look like me in my whole family, so the confidence had to come from us or I can't say I wouldn’t have been one of those people who took the offer to get rid of my freckles. I actually recently met a girl who tried that when she was younger and it gave her very bad skin problems. That broke my heart.
Being a model and having this platform with worldwide campaigns, I've had people come up to me and say, "I appreciate seeing you in my neighbourhood because it makes me feel beautiful." If I can be out there and project acceptance in someone and make someone else feel comfortable in their skin, then ultimately I hope that I'm making the world a better place.
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