Written by J, a, E, , , , B, r, o, d, y , y , , , u , c, B, & w If you want to nag your friends about the crippling, embarrassing and uncomfortable everyday woes of having that one thing you want to change that you just can’t seem to do… talk to them about your blemishes. Not your skin cancer, your stress level, your ill-fitting clothes or your brutal breakouts. Instead, talk about the frustrations of having acne.
Like many adult women, I used to be a high-functioning acne sufferer. At the end of every summer I’d begrudgingly apply thick foundations, pore-clogging serums and tiny frequency packs to chase away the red, wet flakes that would not stop falling from my face.
The problem was that when I became a mother, my glowing complexion began to become a heavy curse to my inner beauty.
When I took my daughters to the mall, they would fall silent, watching me fight the daily onslaught of bikini slides, monster poop patches and nipple stickers — thereby setting the perfect example of an excitable middle-schooler.
When I was invited to speak at a fancy conference, I would start to sweat. I’d bite my nail, trying to keep the pimples from putting me over the edge.
And when they started showing up on their face, it would still not stop. No other type of change could get me through to the next day.
My skin was my emotional barrier, stifling my insecurities as I battled with my conscience over a situation that I had escaped when I was a teenager. And then, at age 41, I got it all figured out. I learned how to manage it, investing in a daily regimen with tons of probiotics and home-grown aloe. I even became the type of person that picked at my own pimples, just to let the bacteria attack. And the longer I was able to nag my friends to remove stubborn chapped elbows, I was one step closer to my dream.
It was only when my youngest daughter was at college that I felt unstoppable. At least that’s when I noticed that I started to look down at my face less and less. I started trying to sleep better at night, adding a face mask and seeking out natural-based products and medicated moisturizers. And with my scalp straighter, my arms less tired and my eyes less clogged with foundation, I found that I had had too much of a good thing.
But soon after that, I started a school project. It was the usual litany of projects — from creating a reenactment of where I went to kindergarten to designing a suit for the school’s Thanksgiving play.
They never really questioned where I went to kindergarten, so I began the project with reenactments of my friend’s pimples. What really surprised me, however, was how incredibly distressing my childhood breakout ended up being.
At first, I couldn’t believe that now that I was a mom, I would ever remember what it was like to have my past reputation as a pimple peddler known around school. I was stunned by how even nonchalant my friends would laugh when I recalled the hilarity my younger self experienced.
Now I know why.
You go through phases, and your priorities become different. Your skin is no longer your biggest barrier. It’s your finances, your stress level, your opinion on your children’s playmates, your biggest feeling of inadequacy and insecurity.
So in a real sense, when you get pimples, it’s really just another thing to freak out about. In addition to getting over the fear of scabs and colds, getting rid of your kid’s embarrassment about your pimples really should be the next step.
And it’s that I would like to see in the future:
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“Stop talking to your kids about their pimples. They’re not the worst thing that’s ever happened to you.”
“Instead, let them draw pictures of how you turned over a new leaf in your skin care routine.”
“The next time someone compliments you on how pretty your skin looks, tell them you did it yourself because your own kid razzed you.”
At least they’ll hear you out.