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?
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?
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.