Like most women, I assumed the day I graduated high school, middle fingers held aloft, I was also leaving behind the swollen and painful memories of my adolescent complexion.
I’m now older and a tiny bit wiser. If there is anything being a woman has taught me, it is this: we are perennially screwed. Our hormonal swings arc high and strong, through puberty, college partying, pregnancy then pre-menopause. Every stage of our lives brings new and challenging obstacles, but the perennial pimple will always be there.
The most unfair revelation – even as wrinkles and fine lines and dastardly inch long chin hairs start to sully our delicate skin, they must muscle pimples out of the way.
Sometimes, in order to accept the things we cannot change, we must attempt to understand them. Even if it kills us.
As a student of the poor pore game, here’s my gift to you: a handy field guide to all the zones of your post-adolescent pizza face.
Remember those gas station chocolate bars that were 2 for 1 so you bought four, but all for the kids? Yeah, you ate all of them last night, rather, wolfed them down, as you leaned on the kitchen counter after bedtime and scrolled zombie-like through your Facebook feed. The tiny red beauties now popping through on your chin with fiery abandon are your penance.
That one girl’s night where you drank too much, did impromptu Billy Joel karaoke in the bathroom, had a soulful conversation with the cab driver about how you take your husband for granted, and then you don’t remember anything until the next morning when your contacts were fused to your eyeballs, your eye makeup was fused to the 600-count white Egyptian cotton pillowcase, and your head was a heavy throbbing nightmare. That night was the birthplace of your eyebrow zit that now looks like a third eye.
Get bangs, your hairdresser said! You will ooze youth and vitality and flirty finesse! Funny, she didn’t mention how the pores tucked under that heavy curtain of bangs, clogged and overheated, would soon ooze their own special kind of magic all over your forehead.
Remember that fancy liquid make-up remover solution you were coerced into buying by that gum-chomping makeup artist with brows like Nike symbols? You need to use it, now. The make-up brushes you’ve been swirling powder and blush and powdered blush on with are the perfect vessels for bacteria. Your cheeks, sprouting whiteheads like it’s their job, are proof positive. So, either set up a cleaning station or swipe them all into the trash and head to Target. Only leave with new makeup brushes you actually need/use. (We can all agree this will never happen.)
You are stressed. This whole being an adult and being responsible for your day-to-day success AND an entire family – this often manifests as a smattering of blackheads across your nose. If your kid asks in public, loudly, “what are those dots on your nose?” tell them quietly they are freckles. If the questioning persists, ask them if they would like to ever have another birthday again. They will go bug their Dad instead.
If you have a zit pop out at the edge of your nostril, you have made a gypsy so upset she has cursed you with all the chicken bones and incense she could find. Never before has there been such a painful place to store pus. Pop this pimple and your eyes will fill with the tears of a thousand seas.
The cruellest acne is the one we only whisper about. The pimples that will bring you to your knees, humble you and shame you. Their preferred area of attack? Backs and shoulders. They come and go at their leisure, though truly shine in warm weather when you want to wear strappy tops but instead are stuck with turtlenecks to hide the bright red wounds from the world. You will have to ask someone to help you deal with them. I pray you have that special friend who delights in holding you down and eliminating these monsters with a box of tissue and rubbing alcohol. Otherwise, you’re asking your unsuspecting partner and most certainly will then owe them 45 blowjobs.
Top dermatologists will say to not pick your pimples. They clearly haven’t experienced the giddiness of being perched precariously on a bathroom counter like a praying mantis, face pressed against the mirror, deft fingers at work, while pus sails out of a throbbing zit hole.
Throw in a glass of wine, bag of Chicago mix popcorn and it’s practically the best Mom’s Night In ever.
(This post originally ran on missteenussr.)