Hi, internet! This is my unfiltered face and sometimes I really don’t like it. I’m thankful for Instagram because I can choose filters to take the focus away from my acne. Sometimes my mother will volunteer to use photo editing apps to take the zits away. This is my relationship with acne as a 24-year-old, and it’s definitely not the kind of relationship fourteen year old me would want to know I was (still) having with my acne a decade later.
I feel like I’ve become someone who is pretty vocal with letting you know her discontent with her acne. I know many of my friends know this story and are tired of hearing it, but it’s pretty crucial in my “journey” with acne, so, here goes:
Acne became a constant fixture overnight from the day I became a teenager. In 7th grade, I wasn’t popular at ALL and was bullied pretty badly because I was in the midst of exploring my personality and delighted in some pretty weirdo interests to my peers; I felt like the only 13-year-old after 1983 who spent her time preaching the gospel of Sting. When I started showing up to school with acne around the same time the other girls were starting to experiment with make up, I felt like it was the talk of the town at school; little red blotches spotted on Taylor’s face were totally not the result of a new shade of blush.
One of the most popular girls came up to me in the hallway one day and presented me with a bottle of Clearasil Ultra, which was THE hottest acne relief at the time, due to a large number of celebrity endorsements. I know the girl thought she was being nice and doing a good deed, but I threw the bottle in my locker and cried in the bathroom for the rest of the day. Worst of all, my Dad (who has also struggled with adult acne), thought my crisis wasn’t a big deal, and took the bottle for himself.
In high school, I discovered Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, and was really obsessed with Cobain’s quote in a Sassy Magazine article where he proclaimed “zits are beauty marks.” I wrote it over and over in my journals and on my mirror. I felt less alone when I discovered the My So Called Life episode where Angela Chase deals with acne. By high school I developed a pretty strict acne routine and tried almost everything I could get my hands on.
I still have a nightly skin routine I follow. Age has helped my acne struggles a bit, but I can’t completely rid myself of it. In fact I’ve almost completely stopped trying to rid myself of acne. I have also come to the conclusion that the pimples are not my biggest issue, it is the way acne is discussed and portrayed in the media, causing negative messages to be indoctrinated into our ways of thinking.
I like talking to people about their acne routines and remedies but I would really much rather discuss how to reform discussion about acne. What can we tell the younger generation about it to properly show acne isn’t the reason to skip school or decline plans out of embarrassment? Even today, I told one of my best friends to tape that picture above to his drum set so he could pound directly at my zits. The fact I’m still speaking and thinking this way about my acne is NOT okay. Are there even media outlets that exist these days which promote a healthy viewpoint concerning acne, instead of only limiting attention to skin routines or quick make up cover ups? Let’s start this discussion, if not!
zits are beauty marks. thank you, Kurt.