Monday, May 28, 2012

One Hundred Things My Mother Taught Me A Million Times – Chapter 88

This is a recent photo of one of our many adorable grandchildren, Colt and Heather's little Ember Elizabeth. Please forgive me, but I just had to share.

#88 – “Never mash pimples.  You'll make scars.”
It is such a dirty trick that nature plays, causing teens to have pimples at a point in their lives when they so desperately need to feel good about themselves. What is that, a test, a measure of character, a character builder? Whatever, it is just wrong.

I was one of the fortunate teens with relatively few pimples, but I do recall fixating over, and “pinching” the ones I had, leaving telltale fingernail dents and red dots. I also remember feeling diseased and ugly, yet very fortunate that my pimples, zits, whatever you want to call them, were minor compared to some of my friends’.

My generation possessed a comparative dearth of information about just about everything, including pimples. All we knew was what our parents told us, which was “wash your face and don’t pinch.” Then television entered our lives about the time my friends and I were entering puberty, assuring us that Clearasil and Noxzema would make our pimples magically disappear, which was a lie. Then when my kids were teens, Accutane came along, with all the dire warnings that it would cause birth defects, and pimples became a scourge of the past, if you had the money to buy the Accutane that is.

When I Googled “acne” to see what I could learn, I got 128,000,000 results, which is mind-boggling. I found out that the most common type of acne is “acne vulgaris” which seems crudely named. What I didn’t realize is that vulgaris, which I associate with the word vulgar, is actually the Greek word for “common.” The information online is vast, interesting and helpful, but the photos are heartbreaking. Click On Read More Below...

I recently saw a young man bussing dishes at a restaurant. He had a bad case of acne, and at first I was repulsed, not wanted to see his seeping sores during my breakfast. Then I looked beyond his acne and scars and saw a really handsome guy with very kind eyes, and my heart ached for him. I could not help but wonder if his acne could have been stopped early on, and if and how that could have changed his life.

I also wondered if there was a website that helped underprivileged teens deal with acne, and sure enough, I found About Face, Teenage-dom is emotionally challenging at best. I can only imagine how much more difficult it must be to face it with a face covered in sores.

So mom was right. You should never mash pimples, because acne scars more than skin. 


  1. I have several colorful memories about my mother's and her sisters' beauty practices, especially those indulged in late at night, when the men were gone and the kids were in bed. These memories are engraved in my brain, or tucked behind my funny bone. Not really sure.

    I do remember my grandmother's warning about the "Don't Mash" rule, but, I swear, Wade Women are trained in the art of popping at a very young age.

    Some evenings, after dinner dishes were washed, kids were scrubbed and tucked into bed, the Wade women would hold card parties, which developed into an attack of pimples. Often, the sisters began the party by consuming un-Godly amounts of iced tea in heavy diamond cut glasses. Soon, they'd break out the cards for a raucous game of "Hell," which always included a shriek of surprise by all when the winner declared "Hell."

    For snacks, the sisters made doodles and fudge ("You kids "will get yours tomorrow, so go to sleep.") By far, the most shocking part of this ritual was heralded by the appearance of pimple popping tools, including tweezers. The poppee studied her sister's face, then, proceeded to perform what amounted to cosmetic surgery. When a particularly stubborn pimple required more than a simple pop, an oversized mirror was used to enlarge the face, making it easier to see the target pimple. The pimple-laden sister had the added bonus of being able to monitor the big pop. Realizing on some level that this was kinda weird, the sisters often lapsed into hysterical laughter, making it nearly impossible to fall asleep, even with the bribe of fudge.

    I swear I heard one splat on that big mirror one night, and wondered if the women in my family were normal.

    Now, all families build relationships around shared experiences, but pimple popping?
    Maybe other women did this too, or maybe the Wade Women had lots of pimples, but, this I know: there was a lot of popping and shrieking laughter in the Wade household on nights when children are supposed to be sleeping.

    MUHAAWWW! Jane

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