Freckles Lead to Fame? What?

Jo Howell was featured in the Daily Mail --for her freckles!

Ushering in the 50s Experience #38: The Newspaper Feature

When my lovely friend Kim texted me a few weeks back and asked what I thought of my freckles, I started to wonder if she’d been on a daytime drinking session. I duly replied that they’re ‘just there’ and I think I kinda like them. Several messages later she filled me in with details of a journalist who was writing a feature about freckles and needed people. Like many of these experiences so far, I didn’t think twice — I’m in!

I emailed the journalist, Alice, and began the conversation about what was needed — apart from the freckles of course. We exchanged several emails, I sent various headshots with and without make-up, freckles in full bloom from the summer and wrote a short bio about myself. To be honest, I didn’t expect to be chosen for the feature. Surely I was too old/not photogenic enough/too freckly? Yep, all those doubts and negative thoughts came to the surface and before long I’d convinced myself there was no way I’d be featured in the Daily Mail.

Imagine my surprise when Alice called me and said I’d been chosen and could I come to London the following week for the photoshoot?!  I’m sure I squealed YESSSSSS before she’d finished speaking. She explained a little about the feature and said I would get the full hair, makeup, photographer experience. How blooming exciting! Almost 50 and I’m going to be in a national newspaper – wahhhhhh!

The following week I headed to London and met Alice and the other 3 ladies starring in the feature. Instantly I marveled at how yes, we all had freckles, but how we all looked so different. I met the team behind the feature then was quickly whisked into a make-up chair to have my “natural” face done. Concealer, touch of mascara, slick of lipgloss, a swoosh of the hair and I was sitting on the stool in front of the photographer. And that’s where the fun started…..

Shoulders down. Shoulders back. Back straight. Chin up, no down a bit. Chin out. Smile with your eyes only (what?!); warmer, a little more….that’s it. Hold it! Click, click, click….

Blimey, it’s a good thing I never wanted to be a model — it’s far too complicated! How do you smile with your eyes? What is looking warmer?! I eased myself off the stool and went back into makeup for the “full” make-up face preparation, silently thinking — I’m going to look like a constipated middle-aged woman with no make up — in THE NATIONAL NEWSPAPER!! Arghhhhh!

Plenty of make up was applied this time around — the idea being that freckles can be hidden if required. As I sat and waited for my next photoshoot, I watched the other ladies in front of the camera. They all looked so natural, so beautiful, so at ease…..oh blimey, what on earth am I doing here?

Alice interviewed me whilst I was waiting and I told her how much I hated my freckles as a youngster — well up until I was about 30 actually. I was teased relentlessly growing up — red hair and freckles were such an easy target in the 70’s. I explained that even when I went overseas in the 90’s, the mickey-taking didn’t stop. I explained how much it knocked my confidence and despite laughing off the “Ginge” nickname, I hated it with a passion. But now, many years later, and thanks to discovering hair dye, I guess I’m not quite so bothered and I can honestly say I’m a bit in love with my freckles…..

I was called up for the second photoshoot and quickly fell into the pose the photographer wanted — hey, maybe I wasn’t so bad at this modeling lark after all! As they looked at the pictures on the screen,  I worried about my flab and how much airbrushing they could / would need to do. Until…the photographer commented that I was very photogenic. I beamed and left the studio shortly after, quite honestly walking on air. What a fabulous day!


And finally, after a two-week wait (hence not being able to write about it until now) the article was printed in the Daily Mail, on Thursday 27th September – Page 48! There I was, the first picture, the slightly bigger picture of the 4, with no makeup for all the world to see. OMG! The article is amazing and I’m so proud to have put freckles back into fashion — go me! (And the other ladies,  of course!)

A friend commented that I’d be hard pushed to beat this experience before I’m 50 and you know what, I think she might be right. I loved every single second of the whole process — the interview, hair, make up, posing — but seeing it in print, in the actual newspaper, was the cherry on the cake.

Thank you to Kim Nash for thinking of me for this feature. Thank you to Alice for being a brilliant journalist and actually writing what I told her. Thank you to everyone who liked or commented on my social media posts. You are all wonderful.

And finally, thank you to anyone who has ever called me “Freckles” or “Ginge” over the last 49 years — because without you and your endless teasing, self-esteem knocking jibes, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today.

And I wouldn’t be in the national press looking bloody gorgeous — freckles and all!



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