Colleen’s Story

by Colleen McCabe as told to Thrive Global Studios

Colleen McCabe, always loved her freckles, although sometimes she struggled growing up because no one else around her had them. Now, as a model, she gets casting calls because of her freckles, and even sees people getting freckle tattoos or putting on fake freckles with makeup. She loves the fact that freckles are being celebrated — it’s just affirmed what she’s known all along, that they’re beautiful and unique. 

My mom has freckles, and so do my sisters, so it wasn’t a surprise when I started getting them around age 7. It wasn’t a big deal until I transferred to a different school in third grade, and suddenly, I was “the new girl with the freckles.” There was no one else who looked like me, and kids don’t understand things like that, so they teased me. “Freckle face.” I was an easy target.  

Even though I actually really liked my freckles, I tried to protect myself from the bullying by covering up. I had freckles everywhere, so I never wore shorts. I wouldn’t take off my jacket, no matter the weather. I didn’t understand why other people couldn’t accept me. My mom used to comfort me and tell me my freckles were special, that they were “angel kisses,” which is something her mom told her. I really love that. 

Now I fully embrace my skin and take good care of it. I do a lot of those sheet face masks. I try to moisturize a lot. I remind myself there is only one me, and I’m going to go out in the world and be the best version of me that I can be. I never leave the house without sunscreen on my face. It is interesting that people often assume my freckles are the result of sun damage. They’re under the impression that I don’t know how to take care of my skin, or my mother didn’t put enough sunblock on me as a child, which is totally inaccurate. But I also have people tell me, “You have beautiful skin and beautiful freckles.”

“In the mornings I use the calmness as a time to set my intentions and feel good from the inside out.” – Colleen McCabe

I definitely think that my freckles are one of the reasons that I have been successful as a model, and that’s an empowering feeling. But clients want what they want, and sometimes I get to jobs and they cover me with makeup. Then I see the photos — and there are no freckles. It can be frustrating. I wish they wouldn’t cover them up. I feel much more beautiful when I have hardly any makeup on and my freckles are showing. But at the end of the day, I’m here to do a job and do it to the best of my ability. 

I do a little positive self-talking to help pump myself up when I go out on a casting, since I know that I’m going to come across a lot of beautiful women, and casting can be a subjective process. I work hard to stay positive and healthy, so in the mornings I use the calmness as a time to set my intentions and feel good from the inside out. My priorities are usually to eat wholesome foods that fuel my body, exercise, and to learn something new. Nutrition has become a huge part of my life. I’m a vegetarian and I love the challenge of turning vegetables into delicious and filling meals. I stand by the holistic approach to nutrition and see myself taking up a career in that field after modeling. For workouts I mix it up with circuit training, yoga, running, and biking, and way too many sit ups.

“Being in a better place with my body means that I can look at myself in the photos and cherish the entire experience and not beat myself up over the way I look.”  – Colleen McCabe

Nurturing my brain as much as I nurture my body is important to me. I try to make sure I’m always staying on top of important topics. I listen to NPR and read the headlines in the morning, and I always have a book with me because modeling involves a lot of downtime. I love personal stories and reading about other people’s experiences, and read a lot about New York and its history. Reading is one of the great pleasures of my life.  

A few months ago my mom told me that she didn’t realize how beautiful her freckles were until she saw that I was modeling, and loving them, and embracing them. She’s like, “I just thought to myself, what a waste of time I spent agonizing over these freckles and I should have embraced them.” I didn’t realize until recently that she had a much harder time with her freckles than I’ve had with mine. 

She told me that I taught her how to love herself and the skin she was in. It was very touching. I was like, “Oh my God.” 50 years into her life and she’s just coming to this point where she’s loving and embracing the skin she’s in. That was a big moment. I think it’s amazing that freckles are being recognized right now. I hope that it lasts and it’s not just a quick trend, because they should be celebrated more than they are. They’re angel kisses! 

Too-small-to-fail steps anyone can take to challenge perfection anxiety

Microstep
Do one small thing each morning that makes you feel good.
Microstep
Visualize a past insecurity — and let it go.
Microstep
When facing a challenge that causes self-doubt, think of a time in your past when you overcame an obstacle.
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