I remember my first zit. I was in the sixth grade and it sucked, and it still sucks
The prettiest girl in my classroom, Paulina Barrios, pointed to my forehead saying “Dustin, is this your first zit?” I didn’t have the courage to answer yes or no, so I sat in my desk, silently without a response, trying to brace off my embarrassment. For the remainder of the year I tried to avoid Paulina as much as possible. This is my first recollection of being embarrassed about my skin and it wouldn’t be my last
Later on in middle school, I dealt with increasing acne like many of my peers, but unlike many I resorted to medical treatment at Kaiser Permanente. I had health insurance and my mom knew I was insecure about my acne, so she thought it best to check in with a dermatologist. Kaiser Permanent appointed Dr. Swab, a tall mid-forty aged women with a European accent (maybe English) as my main dermatologist for the next three, most important, hormonal teenage years of my life. I probably visited Dr. Swab 10 different times for antibiotics, topical gels, and acne concerned questions before she left her job; Kaiser said Dr. Swab never gave a notice of resignation. There were times when the acne would get better, but moments when my acne would flare back up and I didn’t know if I needed stronger acne care solution or if the prescribed antibiotics and gels weren’t for me.
In the 10th grade I picked up a rash on both arms near my elbow. I didn’t know what it was and neither did my family or friends, except one friend—I think it was Jayme—who said it resembled eczema. What the hell was eczema? I searched it up and I wasn’t startled from what I found, with its common diagnoses in the U.S., I felt relief. Also, because my rash looked more similar to eczema than ringworm and impetigo, which are skin infections popular among wrestlers. Anything but that. I never contracted a skin infection from wrestling, however most of my friends, probably all of them—Ulysses, Greg, Joel, etc.—had all, at least once, contracted ringworm and/or impetigo. These skin infections had your classmates step three steps back from you, saying “eww that’s gross, is that ringworm? Don’t get close to me.” More so, Kaiser came in clutch again. I checked in with Dr. Swab. Believing she had the immediate solution for my problem, I was relieved in visiting her, however this wasn’t my day. Dr. Swab couldn’t diagnose my skin infection, all she could do was run a skin biopsy, removing two small pieces of my skin, and have me wait two weeks for her reply with a diagnosis. When she finally called back two weeks later, nothing checked out, just a skin bacterial infection—How specific. In the end, I rubbed some prescribed cortisone until the infection healed. As for the biopsy incisions . . . well they left a scar, but whatever, they make a great conversation starter. People are always fooled; I tell them I got bit by a snake and that’s the scar to prove it. It’s funny, but looking back, I kind of wish I contracted ringworm to have avoided the thought of being an OutKast in high school.
Since I was three I had this mole above my lip that only grew bigger until I removed it. Well I didn’t remove it of course, my dermatologist did that work. The mole wasn’t even that bad, but people made me feel insecure, especially children. For example, when I was a kid in elementary other students, being the uncensored people they are, would comment on my mole. Then in middle school, no one talked about it but I still felt some sort of resentment for it. In high school I tried getting it removed but my dermatologist Dr. Swab convinced me to keep it because it wasn’t that big and the removal would leave a scar. Pretty much, the thought of having an ugly scare replace my mole convinced me to keep it during high school, however then came college. I didn’t think college would increase my body insecurities more than high school, but it did; I think most students can agree that college is a time more provoked by self-body shaming than high school, considering one leaves their teenage youth and notices the negative effects of aging. You either live through college to watch yourself become sexier or watch your once naturally cute body rot away from stress, bad habits, and laziness.
When I joined a frat during my freshman year of college I knew that my mole was going to distract me from engaging in socials. I knew some people would dismiss it but just the thought of being remembered or labeled as the guy with the mole bothered me. If I was going to feel liberated from social anxiety, I needed to remove my mole, and that’s what I did. I scheduled an appointment with a dermatologist—not Dr. Swab—who like Dr. Swab tried to persuade me not to remove my mole but I could not commit. I was going to remove my mole. My next appointment the dermatologist cut off my mole, and for two months I wore a Band-Aid above my once present mole to protect it from harmful scarring by the sun.
Did I really cut of my mole because of greek life?
No, I cut if off because I never liked it
Just another reason to remove my mole
Despite all my challenges and insecurities, I want to say that I am happy. No human will ever have the perfect skin, face, or body because all is subjective; however, you can get pretty damn close to perfection, but that’s not the point. If you want healthy skin, be healthy. What I’ve learned from all my dermatology appointments is that nothing is better for your skin than being healthy. That means eating vegetables and drinking water, and ditching junk food with a shit load of sugar and carbs—shit that gives you belly fat. I caught the flu last month, and for that week that I couldn’t eat anything but crackers and water, I noticed my skin’s complete depletion of acne. Another note, I’m happy because I know what will maximize my happiness. I knew that there was a chance that removing my mole would leave an ugly scar, but I went through with it anyway because a scar would make me happier than a mole above my lip.
PS. In the eighth grade Paulina Barrios told me she had a huge crush on me in the sixth grade, but moved on after I started ignoring her.
Your worst critic is yourself—love don’t judge