Wednesday, April 2, 2014

125. Strangely Fabulous Skin

Who knew that being completely filthy and unwashed would finally cure me of my residual adolescent acne?

I know that I'm not alone in the fact that, as a teenager, I had the shiny, bright oily skin of youth. You aren't alone either. Girl, I feel you. Or should I say: gender-non-specific humanoid cohort, I feel you. I find it funny when advertisements aimed at older women talk about products designed to promote "youthful" skin. I don't know whose youthful skin they're talking about, but I'm pretty sure they don't mean actual youthful skin, that is to say: a crater-filled moonscape.

To me, I began to understand what "growing up" meant when the sparkling dots began to migrate across all the fun landscapes of my body. No longer were the bright red polka dots confined by the boundaries of my forehead and chin. No, no! Avast, ye pimples, we will sail the skin of the back, shoulders and chest! And if we're feeling full of gumption, we'll crop up all over the vast rolling hills of the Grecian rump! Our colonization knows no borders, nations or conflicts! We have only one creed: TO CONQUER!

There were endless staring matches between me and my reflection, which inevitably ended in me feverishly finding and destroying all of the offensive colonies. This, of course, would just make everything worse, because then my face and body looked like I was having some sort of rash from a complex allergic reaction. I did not learn from this. Instead, I simply learned that "harvesting time" would only happen at night, just before I went to bed, so no one would be able to see the havoc that I had wrought.

I went through every type of topical acne medication that was on the market (proactiv, neutrogena, pleading with the almighty), but nothing seemed to help. I simply settled into an understanding of myself as a person, a person with skin that would eternally produce the rich olive oil of my ancestors.

For me, I never gave in to the temptation of makeup. This is not because I am strong willed. It is because I have strong pockets, pockets that will squeeze the daylights out of every single penny to my name. Makeup was (and is) expensive, and I had decided that my money was far better spent on ridiculously cool Doc Martens and Magic The Gathering cards. I was a young woman with priorities, and makeup was not one of those priorities. I also had figured out the math, in that if I didn't have any sort of proper morning routine involving makeup, I could sleep up until 10 minutes before I had to hit the ground running.

After college, when I actually entered adulthood, my skin got slightly better. You might think that this was because I had grown out of the hormonal roller coaster of young adulthood. To that I say: RIDICULOUS! No, I still produced just as much oil. Instead, my skin enjoyed the nurturing effects of the smog-filled chemical-dry air of New York City. This acid air would routinely suck all of the moisture out of my skin and hair, leaving me with oil-free skin and hair like a bird's nest made of old hay. My evidence for this is that anytime I would travel away from NYC to visit other places, I would break out like there was a party on my face and all the zits of the world were invited.

Before I started the Appalachian Trail, I asked Dumptruck if he would still find me attractive when (not if) all the zits on my unwashed hiker face merged together to turn into one giant pustule of horror. He said he probably wouldn't even notice. This inevitability was something that I was fully prepared to accept. I was going to be away from my nutritionally-poisonous New York City air. I would only be able to shower at most once a week. I would never be able to wash my face, except maybe occasionally with my water bottle that still had residual Gatorade floating around inside.

But then, as you can probably guess from the title of this post, something amazing happened: my skin never broke out. In fact, it was practically flawless, aside from all the dirt. By the time I got one tiny zit, somewhere in Massachusetts, it was so unexpected that I assumed it was an infected bug bite.

I'm not sure what it was. Maybe it was all the water I was drinking. Maybe it was all the exercise and healthy eating (HAHAHA, JUST KIDDING, HIKERS EAT LIKE CRAP). Maybe it was the truly fresh air. I'd love to say that it was because I'd finally grown out of that aforementioned hormonal roller coaster, but since returning to regular life, I get somewhat regular break-outs. Not as bad as when I was a teenager, but right now I have a monstrous "under-grounder" (one that cannot be popped), directly in the middle of my right eyebrow.

Something about long-distance hiking gave me strangely fabulous skin. It's a mystery, to be sure, but it was also quite wonderful. I'm not sure if this happens to all hikers, but I can't be the only one.

Clever Girl


  1. This absolutely cracked me up. "olive oil of my ancestors," so good. I'm still struggling with these blasted things myself! I think I get more now that I exercise actually... I think my body is trying to deal with sweating more or something.

    1. Thanks Miss Lis! SKIN IS SO WEIRD. I wish I could offer solutions for you, but I have none. Maybe we should all just get robot skin!

  2. Is it good or bad that Dumptruck, when asked if he would mind if your face turned into a pustule of horror, said "I probably wouldn't even notice"?
    :-) Love, Mom and Dad

    1. Hahaha, I know it was meant in a good way! :D