Picture this: It is my junior year homecoming, I just listened to my hype-up playlist that consisted of the “Xanadu” soundtrack and Nicki Minaj’s Queen. Things are good, everything is right with the world and then I look in the mirror.
Face crack of the century.
A zit has now decided to become the solo act of my face, protruding from my flesh and out into the world, dragging me along with it. I don’t know how it got there; I was committed to the two skincare products I bought from the clearance aisle at CVS.
Of course, looking back now, maybe I would have been better off with a cleanser that made my face less oily, but at the moment I was only thinking about the red alarm on my face.
So, what would a logical person do? Obviously, they stay calm, maybe apply some zit cream and concealer and have a good night. Sadly, I was 16 and was neither logical nor calm.
But, the Scorpio rising I am, I knew what I had to do: Pop that pimple.
In the fifteen minutes I had before my friend’s dad picked me up, my execution had to be flawless. I snatched a sewing needle, some hand sanitizer and my mom’s concealer that was three shades too dark.
It was time.
In one fell swoop, I stabbed the zit with a sewing needle and began to squeeze my nose out of existence, all to remove the disgusting satisfaction underneath.
Now, somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew what I was doing was crazy. I knew if I just got some ice and angled my face a certain way, you wouldn’t even know it was there. But, to me, it was about getting that sebum-licious crude gunk out of my face. I wanted to see it, to know that the root of the problem was prodded and squeezed out.
Yes, there may be some blood, and I will forever have a faint scar on the single pore that was causing all this trouble, but it’ll be gone, and I will be happy … or so I thought.
Five minutes left until my ride arrived and I had a single dot of blood on my nose — ‘tis merely a flesh wound. I began to apply the foundation in an attempt to calm the now-bruised indents of where my hands once were.
I would still go on to have fun that night dancing, eating and laughing away the obsession I had mere hours before, but those bruises took weeks to fade away.
Anyway, this is my way of saying that my guilty pleasure is pimple-popping — not on me anymore (thank God, because my pores are so tired), but on other people, by a licensed dermatologist.
Watching videos of doctors slowly cutting into these facial mounds with a scalpel or pressing a mass with a firm but gentle touch calms me in the weirdest way. They know what they’re doing, they aren’t overwhelmed or discomforted, or if they are they don’t show it. Dermatologists remind me of the one good thing to come from squeezing my pores: the sigh of relief.
I don’t care about how shocking and clickbait-y the pop really is, what I like to see is what happens after. In fact, clickbait pimple popping videos are the bane of my existence.
It’s not genuine or real — half the time they throw some latex and pudding on their shoulder and call it quits. Or, they show those products that supposedly get rid of blackheads, but in the video, those blackheads start to look a lot like chia seeds.
Where is the authenticity?
I would not say I am a connoisseur in the art of pimple popping, but I also wouldn’t say it’s my first time at this rodeo. Now, I watch Dr. Pimple Popper’s episodes like they’re TikTok videos (where she also has an account).
Something about Dr. Pimple Popper, a.k.a. Dr. Sandra Lee, brings me such joy. She has the most amazing people skills, according to the (not always reliable) source of reality TV — but I sort of don’t care. She asks for consent consistently, she listens to her patients and she is always trying to minimize the damage. She is my Nicki Minaj, better known as The Queen.
Yes, I like watching pimple popping videos, but only a certain kind. I don’t like being reminded of how I once treated my skin like a battlefield. I want to know that there are ways to love yourself, even if you have a cyst the size of an orange on the back of your head.
So, a word of advice: don’t play with your own pores. Instead, watch my personal favorite video: Tear Duct Expression.
Daily Arts Writer Matthew Eggers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.