I used to have a boyfriend who liked to pop my pimples.
There was something about it that he was fond of. Maybe it was the challenge of ridding me of the occasional back-ne or perhaps he liked the burst. I’m not sure – even to this day – why he got a kick out of it, but once he popped…he didn’t want to stop. What started as an occasional odd plea “Baby, please let me take care of that for you” eventually turned into a nightly routine that eventually, I found commonplace.
In an essence, this was a mark of the level of intimacy we shared. I had grown so comfortable with him and with myself, that I allowed my imperfections to not only be visible but invited (or rather, allowed) him to explore their ugliness. We still made love, he consistently commented on my beauty, and in public, there was no probing or picking. To him, draining a zit was no different from any other mindless task. He enjoyed it and I somehow grew to not mind it so much – especially when I noticed my skin clearing up from being constantly massaged, inspected, and cleaned.
Since then, I haven’t been with anyone who asks this special request of me and honestly, I don’t miss it too much. What I have wondered, however, is how I reach that same level of acceptance for myself that Mr. Acne-Fighter had toward me. If I could see myself as beautiful as he found me, even with all of the issues I see as problematic and unattractive, and view them as “part of the package of me”, then I’d gain a bit more self-confidence.
Yesterday, I joined Mr. Possibility at a birthday party where I met some of his friends and family. Having met most of his group of friends and the members of his clan that are important to him, I wasn’t nervous but rather excited to have an afternoon to relax, eat Italian food that I normally wouldn’t allow on my diet, and spend some time cooing over his nieces. It’s almost like escaping to the suburbia I grew up in, that’s full of love, comradery, and timeless memories, and while I’m not ready to return to that way of life, it’s nice to be away from the rush of the city and go at a slower pace for an afternoon.
Getting ready for the day, Mr. Possibility commented that I was taking longer than usual and started rushing me to get out the door. I’m usually not short-tempered but I immediately snapped at him the first time he hurried me, and seeing my frustration, he knocked on the bathroom door to figure out the reason behind my short-wick. Nearing that inevitable time of the month, I’ve found myself oily and broken out, bloated, and overall, not feeling all that gorgeous. And so, I stood in front of the mirror, trying to figure out how I could boost my esteem before being friendly and warm to Mr. Possibility’s network when the only thing I wanted to do involved a huge bowl of buttery mashed potatoes, my yellow blanket I’ve had since I was a child, and re-runs of Lifetime movies that I hate to admit I watch…and sometimes, enjoy.
I opened the door and asked, “Would you be terribly upset if I caught the train?” Confused, he inquired where I was going on the train. “Home,” I replied with a pout. Without a word, he raised an eyebrow, and I heaved an aggravated sigh. “This, Mr. Possibility! See this? On the side of my cheek?? Huge zit that I can’t cover up and if I put makeup over it, it’ll only look cakey and gross. Do makeup companies not make anything that will erase this? How can I meet everyone and be an extension of you, when I look like this? They will wonder why in the world you’re with me.”
Following my outburst, I cautiously met his eyes, only to see him smirking. “Why are you smiling? This is awful. I can’t go,” I continued. He placed his hand on the side of my face, right next to the culprit who was causing so much dismay, and asked, “Do you think you’re going with me because of the way you look? Or do you think you’re going with me because you’re you?”
Not amused by his approach at a sweet tactic, I combated his sentiment by saying, “I know. I know you’re not with me because I’m the most beautiful thing to ever grace the Earth, but I want to feel attractive. And I’m glad you find my attractive, but I don’t and that’s a problem. How can I put on a happy face and go when everyone can see this?”
Realizing he wasn’t going to calm me down, he tried a different approach, “Well, they’ll see it. They’ll notice it. And then they’ll move on to get to know you. They know you’re not a supermodel, neither are they, neither am I.”
And in his own twisted way of being rational, Mr. Possibility actually made some sense: I’m no supermodel.
Of course, I’ve always known that – but I’ve also always thought I needed perfectly clear and tanned skin. I’ve thought to be considered remarkable by aesthetic standards; I needed to be a size two (though I’m consistently a four). I’ve thought men want girls who are no fuss, who can roll out of bed with rosy cheeks and breath that smells minty and fresh. I’ve thought to feel comfortable with myself; I needed to always have my best face forward.
But what I’ve really needed to accept is that I’m not a supermodel. I’m never going to be on aVictoria’s Secret ad, a Clean & Clear commercial, or be the one in my group of friends who is complimented for their pretty skin. I have nice eyes, a great figure, and naturally wavy hair that may turn heads, but maybe, my skin won’t. Even when I get it under control and my hormones die down, I may never feel comfortable in my own skin – and really that’s okay.
Because I still love who I am and mostly, what I look like. I have off days where preparing to face the day with a face that’s not perfect is difficult. I have moments where I want to run away from the world so they don’t see that I’m flawed. But my blemishes don’t define me any more than my beauty does.
And if I can meet men who enjoy ridding me of acne and ones who see straight through it and right into my heart, then I believe not every guy needs to date a supermodel to find their partner beautiful.
In fact – most don’t.