When I was a teenager, I was so self-conscious about pimples. I can’t imagine why. It might have something to do with the old lady who pointed them out to me. Regardless of the reason, I can remember being horrified when I would have one. I usually didn’t get normal, everyday pimples. Oh, no, my friends. That would be too average. I would get the big, monster, underground pimples that would rise to the surface of my skin like a volcano waiting to burst. They were usually big and shiny and red. They were hideous. I would use cover-up to try and camouflage them, but Mount St. Helens could not be hidden.
When I was about 14, my mother took me to a dermatologist. Now, before I go further with this story, let me clarify something. I did not have a pizza face. In fact, most of the time, unless I was sporting a volcano, I did not have pimples in sight at all. Thank goodness, I never got them on my cheeks. Usually, they were on my chin and nose. Mt. Vesuvius would occasionally rear its ugly head between my eyebrows. Otherwise, I was free and clear. Unless you lifted my bangs.
Under my bangs, I had a minefield waiting to explode. I typically only had about 10 to 15 zits under there, but it was enough to alarm my mother. Therefore, to the dermatologist’s office we went. The doctor, we’ll call him Doc (It took me a while to think up that nickname), would treat my forehead with some kind of liquid gas (Don’t ask me…I don’t know) that he would rub on my forehead. I’m not sure it actually worked, but it felt kind of good, especially on a hot Florida day.
As if having to go to the dermatologist was not hard enough on my fragile teenaged self-image, this particular doctor was even worse. This man was about five foot-nothing. He was a little bitty Asian man, and I was a big white girl. Every time I had to see him, he would reach up and put his hands on my broad shoulders and tell my mother, “She big. She big strong girl. She big and healthy. Big strong girl.” That’ll make ya feel good about yourself, let me tell you. I used to dread going to him, because I hated being told how big and strong I was. Maybe if I had been a boy, it would have been pleased at his statements, but I was, and still am, indeed, a girl. Just a note to little Asian men out there…big white girls do not like to be told how big and strong they are.
So, after the visits to Doc ended, the volcanoes continued to erupt on my face. I just held onto the hope that someday, I would grow up and quit getting pimples.
In my twenties, I kept waiting for the change in my skin to happen. When I was pregnant, I got extra pimples. I did not find that fair at all. I mean, it was bad enough that I was as big as a house. Couldn’t my skin at least look good?
In my thirties, the volcanoes kept coming. I tried to console myself by saying they at least made me look younger. Why, I was practically a teenager with all the zits I was getting!
There was a week and a half in the second half of my 38th year when I thought the volcanoes had moved on to someone else. Then, they came back. With a vengeance.
Now, in my forties, they are still with me. Recently, I thought about the fact that I hadn’t had a volcano in a while. Then, a few days later, I woke up feeling like a unicorn. I had a big ole’ zit right between my eyes. It was so big, I could see it through the corners of my eyes. I was pretty convinced it was a horn breaking through the skin. I was really excited about being a mystical creature. However, I was disappointed when it popped and no horn came out. Oh, the disappointment.
So, here’s the thing. I used to care. I used to spend a lot of money on cover-up (which, by the way, never actually covered anything). Now, I really don’t care anymore. A few years ago, I taught a class of teenaged girls at church. I was horrified when I woke up and saw a volcano erupting on my chin. I was really struggling with the idea of speaking to them while they were staring at my zit. I knew I would never be judged more than while standing in front of a class of high school girls. So, I decided just to face it head-on (pardon the pun). I stood in front of the class and said, “Okay, girls. Let’s get this over with. It’s a zit. See it? It’s a beauty. Get a good look…….. Okay. You’ve seen it. Let’s get on with class.”
Since then, the volcanoes have not embarrassed me anymore. I figure, we all get them. At least I’m a big, strong girl and I can handle it. I figure, I’ll have them until I die, so as long as I get zits, I know I’m still alive. -Al