It may just be my viewpoint (and it wouldn’t be the first time), but doesn’t it seem that current print media has an unfounded prejudice against freckles?
Let me state that the photos in this post are not mine. I made photos of magazine pages for illustration purposes only, and the photo copyrights do not belong to me. Both images are of ads for photo retouching software. Also, these were made very quickly by shooting the magazines on my concrete driveway in diffused light. I believe that they illustrate my point, though someone like Kirk Tuck would no doubt have done a better job, producing somewhat clearer images.
As usual, click on the photos to see larger versions. In the first image the “before” photo looks quite good to me. The “after” photo with all of the woman’s freckles removed simply looks wrong to me. It gives the woman an almost alien appearance (as in non-human, possibly non-Terran). The after photo is the result of too much altering of the image. Like an overproduced recording of a rock band, it strips away raw vitality and leaves something unreal.
In the second photo someone in an art department, showing off their skill with the retouching software, has cleverly used a single photo to show both before and after and help the ad fit a single column of the magazine. I think it is an effective ad, and shows exactly what the retouching software can do, but it is based on the idea that there is something wrong with freckles.
I have the opposite viewpoint. I think the freckling on both women’s faces just augments their natural beauty. To my eye, the second photo is the worst offender, because it presents the largest difference; a photo of a woman who is quite beautiful, and a photo of a woman who doesn’t exist.
My viewpoint may well be cultural. I’m a Caucasian, and find Caucasian women to be beautiful and freckling often augments that beauty in my eyes.