By: Nina Fainman-Adelman
What’s black and white and red all over? What oozes when you poke it, and churns when you leave it alone? To find the answer, don’t look to any puzzle book; instead, try your forehead, nose, and back. More commonly known as a “zit”, this swollen hill of pink flesh is the one thing known to break glass, pay off dermatologists’ mortgages, and send blotchy-red faces on 7am Shoppers trips. Zits are universally known as the crux of teenage humiliation and the subject of many J-14 “Embarrassing Moment” stories; however, zits are not all that bad; they are a symbol of unity among teenagers, an emblem of wisdom sent by Mother Nature, preparing us for greater grievances as we mature, and a badge of honour distinguishing adolescents from other age groups.
Consumerism and the adult world have brainwashed us to believe that zits are “…highly irritating… and unsightly”. Young *Emily Miller, who has just entered the world of pimple cream and cover up, agrees. “It’s like these companies want you to feel bad about yourself, just so they can sell more of their product.” Regardless of the method used to sell acne treatments, teens are willing to pay good money in the hopes of clear skin. In fact, a survey published in the Archives of Dermatology, reveals that teens would pay on average $275 to never have acne. A North Toronto survey furthers this idea, as students would be willing to pay up to one thousand dollars to do the same. But is this really the society we want to live in? A society where markings, distinguishing a coming-of-age, are seen as blemishes? Where individuals will go to all ends to remove evidence of these “eyesores”? It’s time for us as teenagers to band together, to declare zits “beauty spots,” and learn to love them.
As teenagers, we bend over backwards to fit in. We buy the same shoes, wear the same jackets, and use the same cell phones. However, while we go out of our way to fit in, we neglect to consider the most obvious source of unity: zits. No matter what gender, race, weight, or culture, “[if] you’re a teen, chances are pretty good that you have some acne.” In fact, approximately 85% of teens have acne at some point in their adolescence. Zits liberate us from the seemingly impossible task of blending in and show us that we’re not alone in this stage of our lives. Some say that “[perhaps] only the war against acne can unify the teenagers around the globe together.”
In the few years of adolescence, teenagers are expected to learn a lot before they can be recognized as fully fledged adults. The zit represents a very important life lesson that all adults have learned at some point: humiliation. In an interview with Susan Goldberg, a part-time social worker, it was conveyed that “teenagers need to learn to be embarrassed… If [they] dwell on silly little setbacks, [they] will have a hard time getting anywhere.” Zits are Mother Nature’s way of preparing us for the obstacles we will face as we mature. If we can’t learn to deal with little annoyances, like a few measly red bumps, how will we be able to deal with the bigger problems in life?
With the fast pace of the 21st century, society has taught us to cherish every landmark of age, because as we all know, life goes by fast. We celebrate our first steps as toddlers, our first day of school as children, our first dance as preteens, and first job as adults. So what is left to celebrate as teens? You guessed it: those puffy red friends leering at us from the top of our foreheads. There aren’t many things that make teenagers unique from adults or children. Most of the time when teenagers act, dress, or look a certain way we are deemed either “mature” or “childish”. Many North Toronto students agree with the fact that “zits are one of the few things that we as teenagers have for just ourselves.” Being a teenager is about growing up and accepting a new stage in our lives, so why do we try so hard to cover-up one of the few markings of our coming-of-age? Zach Bader-Shami, a grade 12 student at North Toronto C.I notes that“[It] is an essential part to growing up that we experience changes, and [we should] embrace [those] changes,” not hide from them.
Part of being a teenager is getting zits, so if society says no to zits, society is saying no to teenagers. Our time has come to flip this horror story on its head and embrace our inner zit. The zit is more than a puss-y infection due to oil-clogged pores; it’s a represents the melding of teenagers around the world, familiarizes us with the greater obstacles we will face as we mature, and differentiates teenagers from other age groups. So next time you wake up to find a shiny red sebum-filled mountain smack dab in the middle of your forehead, get excited. It’s your time to shine.