Mrs. Webber’s 6th grade Language Arts class was my favorite class. I loved dissecting pieces of poetry and creating my own metaphors for homework that were just like the ones I saw in class. This classroom was a magical place for me, but it was also a place where I fired the first shot of a war I am fighting to this day. At first I only covered the red bump with makeup because that is what my mom said I should do. Covergirl Liquid Concealer shade 004. That was my ammunition before things turned ugly.
“The Battle of Middle School Acne” was not one for the books. The fighting was clean and fair. A pimple would arise and then disappear a few days later. No harm, no foul. “The Battle of High School Acne,” however, was challenging. I started having a few blemishes on my face at a time. L’oreal setting powder shade Beige was added to the weapons that I relied on to keep my zits invisible to any outside observer. My high school battle was an especially bloody one because it wasn’t just a physical game anymore, it was a mental game. As my biology teacher asked questions about our homework I would scour my face for new blemishes which I magnified in my mind into demons. I thought about the other girls, the “pretty” girls, with seemingly perfect skin. “How great they must have it”, I thought, “they will never know what it is like to wake up in the morning and think about how many imperfections have to be hidden that day.” I was quietly envious of their flawless cheeks and chins and foreheads. I became very familiar with the hallway floors, and they to me, because that was the only thing that saw my face as I walked from class to class. Sephora concealer in my hand loaded and ready to fire, I would keep to myself.
The funny thing about my battle is that nobody seemed to know I was fighting it. The blemishes that were so exhausting to hide every day were invisible to everyone but me. Everyone was wrapped up in their own insecurities.
The compliments I received had nothing to do with my physical appearance. The flattering words did not note the flat stomach that TV said I should have or the small nose that was up to magazine standards, or the flawless skin. They focused on my character: “you are the funniest person I know”;“you are such a hard worker”;“your dedication inspires me”;“I look up to you as a leader” — and until now I never allowed them have any impact on me.
As a senior in high school I have flown the white flag to acne, not to surrender, but to accept that I am not perfect. Nobody is perfect even if they appear so on the outside. I know now that I am so much more than my acne. I am the comedian and the hard worker and the inspiration and the leader that everyone told me I was. I am the shoulder to lean on and the person to trust and the loving friend; and so is everyone else. Everyone is more than their battle, more than their fog. My acne which lives on the surface has ironically caused me to see deeper within myself and also deeper into the people around me. My classmates are more than the trouble they are having in school; my teammates are more than the skill with which they are struggling; my own skin is more radiant than Revlon Concealer shade 136 ever could be, and I have my acne to thank.