When I was younger, I wanted freckles. I don't know if this was because generally people who had lots of freckles also had red hair, or if it was just freckles by themselves - often in the books that I read, freckles were described as "cute" or "natural" or "beautiful."
Whatever it was, I always wanted to have freckles. And I do have a handful sprinkled here and there, but I'm no redhead - I'm blonde through and through, which means the freckles I have are very different from the ones I interpreted as "cute" and "natural."
Now, I know what the adults (and later on, my friends) always said about things like this. "You're beautiful the way you are. Wishing for what you don't have will only make you miserable." In other words, I can't change that about myself, so why bother thinking about it so much?
Later on, while I was in college, I started a project, collecting my original characters into a spreadsheet and using a few short words to describe each of them (physically, emotionally, relationally, financially, etc.) and compare them side by side. When I did this, I noticed a couple things that both interested me and, in some curious way, shamed me.
1) Less than 10% of my characters were blonde.
2) None of my characters were overweight.
Since I most commonly identify people by hair color and clothing (and only one of those things stays the same for a whole week at summer camp, or at least I hope only one of those things stays the same) I see my hair color as closely tied to what I look like as an individual person. In retrospect, this seems silly. There are many blond people that look nothing like me. But it seems I was trying not to make characters that looked like me, so I made lots of characters with brown or black or red hair, and very few with blonde hair.
But when I looked at the "build" column, I saw it was filled with "average," "lean," and "muscular" characters. A lot of my characters were average height and average build... meaning that a lot of them did in fact look rather a lot like me, only with darker hair.
So, there you have it. My realization that my characters are a lot less varied than I thought they were.
This project (that is, writing out a spreadsheet for your characters so they can be compared one to another) was very helpful for me in seeing trends on what kinds of characters I tend to make, and helped me broaden my horizons a bit. If you have the time and patience for it, I would highly recommend giving it a try. You can find a copy of my spreadsheet template here, and you're free to use/modify it as you like. :) I look forward to seeing what you come up with.