Image Source: A24
I was making my way to first period when my friend's sister stopped me to tell me I had something on my face. I was immediately defensive, thinking she was pointing out my pimples, until I realized she meant the acne cream that were on my pimples. Because I was in a rush that morning, I'd forgotten to wash my face and had left on the acne cream I'd applied the night before. I thanked her for the heads up and ran to the girl's restroom in embarrassment. I was 12 at the time and desperately praying that this was only a phase. It wasn't, unless you call 12 years a phase.
My middle school pimples evolved into hormonal acne in high school and graduated into inflammatory acne when I started college. It wasn't until I was 24 and started using Accutane that I finally became acne-free. That's a hell of a long time, and it was a hell of a journey, one that tested my confidence and pain tolerance (inflammatory acne is just that . . . inflammatory).
You know what's just as bad as walking around with a face full of large cysts and oozing pimples? Going through life thinking you're the only one in the world who has skin as bad as yours. Don't get me wrong — people at my middle school, high school, and college did have acne, but rarely was it as serious or as frequent as mine. It was unique for me to meet someone whose skin looked like mine, which is why it was always uncomfortable for me to listen to my friends and classmates talk about that stubborn pimple on their forehead or that tiny pink dot on their nose.
I didn't see myself represented in my student body, and I definitely didn't see my struggles reflected in TV shows and films, especially coming-of-age stories about teenage outcasts. The Princess Diaries, Teen Witch, and even Carrie, while great at capturing the struggles of navigating high school with low self-esteem, all revolved around characters that had little to no acne.
Even today's teen flicks are blemish-free. While Lady Bird was applauded for adding acne to Saoirse Ronan's cheeks, I couldn't help but think: "that's not my kind of acne."
That is why it was almost impossible for me not to smile when I came across a trailer for the upcoming Bo Burnham-directed Eighth Grade. The film follows Kayla, a middle schooler who goes through the painful transition from eighth grade to high school with a face. . . Full. Of. Acne.
She walks through the hallways of her school, quiet, timid, and hoping someone will pay attention to her yet, simultaneously wishing she was invisible. She uploads videos of herself to YouTube where she opens up about her insecurities and uses bunny and panda filters on Snapchat to hide her imperfections.
The movie (or at the very least its trailer) seems like a refreshing break for acne sufferers and survivors everywhere. While I can go on and on about how groundbreaking this trailer is, I'll let you watch it here and be the judge of it.