Lessons from Pippi Longstocking
When I was a little girl, I identified strongly with Pippi Longstocking, a fictional character in a series of children’s books by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. Like Pippi, I was a lively, gangly child with an abundance of freckles on my face and my hair worn in unruly braids. I was nothing like my pretty doll-like little sister. Pippi was a heroine to me – brave and strong and her adventures with her friends Tommy and Annika captured my imagination. I came across an old Pippi Longstocking book from my childhood and was delighted to read the following exchange between Pippi and a shop-keeper who is convinced that freckles are something to be ashamed of. It is my lesson for today on beauty and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
In the perfume shop show window was a large jar of freckle salve, and beside the jar was a sign, which read: DO YOU SUFFER FROM FRECKLES?
“What does the sign say?” ask Pippi Longstocking. She couldn’t read very well because she didn’t want to go to school as other children did.
“It says, ‘Do you suffer from freckles?'” said Annika.
“Does it indeed?” said Pippi thoughtfully. “Well, a civil question deserves a civil answer. Let’s go in.”
She opened the door and entered the shop, closely followed by Tommy and Annika. An elderly lady stood back of the counter. Pippi went right up to her. “No!” she said decidedly.
“What is it you want?” asked the lady.
“No,” said Pippi once more.
“I don’t understand what you mean,” said the lady.
“No, I don’t suffer from freckles,” said Pippi.
Then the lady understood, but she took one look at Pippi and burst out, “But, my dear child, your whole face is covered with freckles!”
“I know it,” said Pippi, “but I don’t suffer from them. I love them. Good morning.”
She turned to leave, but when she got to the door she looked back and cried, “But if you should happen to get in any salve that gives people more freckles, then you can send me seven or eight jars.”
(Pippi Goes on Board, Astrid Lindgren)