It’s clear as day

Okay people.

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Today I want to talk zits.




Between grades seven to ten I had a pretty bad case of the pizza face (to use the most unappealing and totally grotesque descriptor that could possibly come to mind). To make matters worse, when I started grade nine, I realized that my blemishes had also begun to migrate to other areas of my body, such as my shoulders, back, and chest.

Being the tank-top connoisseur that I was, not to mention a girl already tormented with braces and glasses, this dispersion, to me, was pushing the boundary of general decency.

I mean, with how much dermatological baggage should a fourteen year old girl be saddled?

Good grief.

So I tried a number of different brands and products in a bid to rid myself from this dastardly affliction, with most of my efforts being, of course, in vein.

I spent my a large percentage of my (minimal) disposable income on topical acne gels, Biore facial strips, and medicated face and body washes just to try and keep those little (and sometimes not so little) red dots at bay.

But nothing ever really worked and I was miserable.

What little else remained of my money was spent on heavy duty foundation and thick translucent powder (powder that I used to “set” said foundation.)

[Ed. note to any teenage readers: THIS IS NEVER A GOOD THING TO DO.]

Waking up every morning and counting the number of zits on my face, hoping against hope that there would be less than the day before, I, like any good overdramatic fifteen year old, was at the point where I began to believe that this would be my life FOREVER.

That was until November of grade ten rolled around and my mother set me up with a prescription for Acutane.

Now, say what you want about this product (and I know there is a ton of legitimate negative literature out there on the subject) but for me, this medication was a godsend.

Sure, my lips were dryer than the Sahara desert the entire time I took those big white pills, but seeing how well (and how fast) my skin cleared up, I would have agreed to a lifetime of chapped smoochers in exchange for the miracle work it had performed on not only my face – but all my other “problem” areas.

Thinking back, I cannot help but smile when thinking about the summer before entering grade eleven.

I got my braces taken off, got new “cool” specs (and by cool I mean the big, black frames I still wear today. I was rocking my nerd glasses way before anyone thought to make them into a trend!), and my skin had completely cleared up.

I remember going to a party at a boy’s house (a boy that would eventually become my first boyfriend) in August and him telling me how great I looked.

I was on top of the world.

Flash forward over the past ten years, and well, during this time I have had both fantastic skin, and not so fantastic skin.

The short and simple answer as to why this disparity exists is this:

I have (and have had) fantastic skin when I have been healthy.

I had not so fantastic skin when I was sick.

Take me at my word kids: nothing mucks up your skin faster than being bulimic.

After particularly awful episodes I would break out horribly, and in awkward places at that – all along my jaw line, across my hairline, and next to my temples (just to name a few.)

And then what do you know, I was back at the drug store procuring that foundation and powder, contemplating whether or not another round of medication was worth the hassel.

In the end, I am happy to report that in its stead, I took the necessary steps to improve my health, and since this time have been back to a non-caked-on-concealer complexion.


The skin on the rest of my body remains as sensitive as a sensitive thing, and seeing as though my skin is pretty much translucent and easily scarred, I have to be very careful about the kind of body washes and soaps that I use in the cleaning process, and about never buying bras that dig into my skin, and about using lightweight workout clothes.

Because if I don’t I’ll most likely get some sweet skin decoration going on – decoration that will lurk around for quite awhile, due to said aforementioned easy scarring.

But honestly, at this point in my life I don’t really care either way.

I don’t have the energy to waste on these matters.

Sure, sometimes this sensitivity grinds my gears, but when it comes down to it – a zit or two on my shoulder will never, ever be something that stops me from doing anything I actually want to do.

And why should it?

It’s funny.

I can still remember a conversation that I had with one of my best friends when we were but thirteen years old.

She asked me: “Would you rather have perfect skin, or always be skinny, for the rest of your life?”

With my body issues beating my skin issues in the race for most damaging control over my life, I easily answered “Skinny.”

I so badly wish I could go back and help that young girl know that the right answer is neither of those two options.

But the again, hey – she ended up finding her way there eventually.

Published by

Vanessa Woznow

Writer, runner, ranter, reader. I write about all things.

23 thoughts on “It’s clear as day”

  1. If it makes you feel any better; both of my parents still get pimples (though mostly my mother) so I know I am doomed with them until at least my mid-fifties. The Wife and The Heir both have them too (and the boy prince is only 4 weeks old!).

  2. I have heard 90 year olds get zits. I try and take really good care of myself from the inside out. I use witchhazel and tree tea oils for acne. I turn to Zinc when I have a really bad breakout – just have to go on the down low with the citrus though. I also make sure my moisturizer has sunscreen and if I need further sun protection I say within the same brand family of products – find it works best for me and my facial skin. Have a Great One:)

  3. Funny, I would have said skinny too. I had a friend who was bulimic and I tried, but couldn’t get into it like she did. I tried everything, fasting, eating only lettuce, oh so many things, and screwed up my metabolism which my mom who was an RN said I’d do if I continued, but i didn’t listen to her. I kind of still wish for skinny, to tell you the truth. Or at least lipo. I never had bad skin from it, tho, but I feel bad for the kids that did. Love the glasses!

    1. Yeah, I think most kids would probably have leaned that way. It’s pretty nuts really, and something I worry about when I think about having kids down the road. But extra motivation to keep my health up!

      I think you look plenty lovely (and are not at all in need of surgery!).

      And thanks, I too love my specs. :)

  4. Your honesty is catching and I love the healthy body image that you’ve come away with after all this. I think most of us can relate to have acne issues as a teen and I also know the feeling of braces and glasses (I got them both when I turned 13, it was a dark year for my ego…). Life is awkward and difficult enough at that age as we get bogged down what everyone thinks of us and who we should emulate. There’s nothing quite like coming into your twenties and choosing to be yourself, joyfully! A great post and a beautiful way to tackle some very real body-conscious issues.


    1. Thanks love :) So glad to know that this issues resonates with others.

      Man, I was talking with a friend the other day about how much happier and healthier I am now compared to my early twenties. Everyone always extols the virtues of youth, but goodness, you couldn’t pay me to go back! I’m digging this adventure as it unfolds.

      Happy Thursday beauty! xx

  5. Seriously-from someone who’s dealt with bastard pimples since age 12, thank you so much for this post. I also have bought all the products, ever. The only thing I haven’t tried is those weird pricey laser/light contraptions and prescription meds. The latter I think I’m going to steer clear of-esp because of the association of Accutane and depression. For me, that just doesn’t seem like a good idea. Anyway, I still hate acne, but I really do have better things to worry about now…for the most part.

    But this shit used to seriously ruin my life. Having been teased about it in middle school and high school, I came to believe that no boy would ever desire me because of my terrible skin. I’m pretty much over that, because teenagers are insecure assholes, and I know I treated other people poorly in other ways, due to my own insecurity. I think for most people, post high school is where they start to get over it, but it took me a bit longer. Unfortunately, in my first two years of uni I was surrounded by a group of men who had no qualms about saying degrading and shaming things about the physical appearance of women they dated, slept with, randomly encountered on the street, etc. They never said anything to me directly (though I don’t doubt they shit talked me when I wasn’t around). Let’s just say this this didn’t exactly help with my self-perception (or my opinion of men). I would avoid dating because I was afraid that if things got serious with a dude, I would have to let him see me without makeup. This is some seriously fucked up shit.

    Anyway, as you know I’m now in a relationship with a wonderful guy who makes me feels beautiful (and says so) even when it feels like my whole face is covered in boils. Now I realize how completely fucked up those other people were, but it’s hard to realize that when everything you’ve experienced confirms your own negative self talk.
    I’m not sure what my point here is…other than people are the worst, except for the ones that aren’t.

    1. OMG, your last sentence is actually amazing. It had me laughing like a drain over my morning coffee. Goodness I adore you.

      And reading this had my heart tugging like crazy. I am so sorry that you had to deal with all of this crap. Teenagers and young adults are so brutal, to not only themselves but others, but to their peers (sheesh, talk about a negative reinforcing cycle!)

      It makes me so, so happy that you have someone in your life who can remind you of just how beautiful you are (and hope that you tell yourself this on a daily basis – if not, I will exact measure to make it so.)

      Thanks for this brilliant comment. xx

  6. NOOOOO! i can’t berleave innywun else hazz cawmintid on this!

    delete them from your address book! (this was a post to see who of your followers is nuts, right?)

      1. can i RE-WIND? i “shot from the hip” in my prior comment … w/o axually reading your (X-selln’t azz yoozyool) subsequent disscushun. proof again that you (as far as i’ve seen) can make ANYTHING a fun read.

  7. Fantastic post! Thanks for doing something I am so scared to do (sharing my heart on my blog about my problems). You grow up, don’t you? And the things that bother you so much don’t matter so much any more. And you find solutions. Both at the same time. Funny how that is…

    Here’s a post on a new product I’m trying by the expert herself! (Paula Begoun)

    1. HI Marisa! Thank you for such a fab comment. I’m so glad that you enjoyed the post :) And what you say is true – eventually many things that seem so overwhelming will come to fade.

      Thanks for stopping by – I will be sure to check out the post! x

  8. If I were to talk to my teenage self, I’d say many of the same things, summing up with the words, “Perspective is everything,” and “This too shall pass.”

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