I remember the first time I got a zit on my face. It was the worst moment of my life. The worst moment, because everyone around me pointed it out, stared at it and laughed at it. Then came the millions of ways to get rid of it.
Over the years I tried all the different face washes and brand names, all claiming that they would clear up my skin. Some of them worked, but left my face red and dry, I threw out others after a month. No luck.
At my first facial, I remember thinking that when I'd walk out, the zits would be gone. My face would miraculously be clear of any imperfections. Wrong. More imperfections started sprouting up after the fact.
What I knew was that it wasn't attractive to have zits on my face. Not only did I learn that from others, but after a while, I started to believe it as well. I thought that they made me unattractive. That I looked greasy. Gross. Acne prone skin was what I had.
I'm now in my thirties and I still break out, especially around that time of the month, but I don't feel as insecure about it as I used to. I actually feel fine about them, because everybody gets them. It's not just teenagers, but there are even adults well into their sixties who get a pimple now and again. We all get them. We've all felt the same around getting them, so why be ashamed of them? One boyfriend I had said he felt like he was dating a teenager because of my breakouts. I took it as a compliment.
Although I acknowledge the zit on my face to others when I have one or some, I've gone years now without feeling bad about having one. Meaning, it doesn't stop me from leaving my apartment or interacting in the world. But the other day I went to the dermatologist for a yearly check up.
I am about to get my girl and so my chin has blown up a bit, meaning two zits, soon to be three growing rapidly under the surface. I'm used to it. I get them always around this time and in the same spots.
"Is this because you're getting your period?" He asks me. I nod. "Well, I can give you some topical gel if you want, but that won't make it go away, or I can give you a pill that does make them go away around this time."
I shifted my weight and immediately felt uncomfortable. I don't like putting anything into my body I don't have to. And I've gone pretty much all natural with what I put on my skin after learning that all the chemicals I had been using on my body were being absorbed into my bloodstream. Again, here was somebody telling me there was a miracle pill that could just take it all away.
Take it away, I thought. But these are my hormones doing this. I mean there has to be a reason why my body needs to produce this bacteria, right? Why would I want to stop my body from doing what it naturally wants to do? Why couldn't I just stand up on his table and say, "Look, doc, I have zits, yes, and there's nothing wrong with that"?
Instead of standing on the table, what I did was laugh. "I don't understand," I said, "What's in the pill?"
He went on to describe what it did, but not what it was.
And when I told him I'd pass on it, he said, "Well, if it gets really bad and you want to come back, you can."
But here's the thing. I've learned to live with my zits for so long that they've become a part of me. Removing them all together would be like taking away all the awkwardness I used to feel about them. It would take away all the insecurity I had to overcome. It would take away a part of me.
What if we all took the things others think we should get rid of and celebrated them instead? What would that feel like?