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My Blemished Past

Did He Care if His Teen Acne Served an Evolutionary Purpose? Not a Speck. His World View Was Too Spotted

By Simon Busch
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, March 29, 2005; Page HE01

It is too late for me -- my psyche is already pitted -- but let me congratulate the scientific team at Birmingham University in England, whose researches have led them to the thesis that acne may be a kind of evolutionary contraceptive. In mimicking the symptoms of illness, the scientists speculate, pimples might form a sexual no-go zone that prevents humans from reproducing before they are physically and psychologically ready for it.

Zits as a Darwinian cold shower: It is a theory that many teenagers will find immediately convincing.

_____From The Post_____
Almost Everyone Gets Blemished

Acne deserves serious scrutiny, for it is a frequently trivialized source of human misery. We so often regard it, along with sullenness, disproportion and ill-aimed desires, as just part of the misshapen, adult-bound package that is teenagehood. Mirth is the most popular register in which to invoke the body's passage through an oil-rich state.

Yet the comic spotlight misses real suffering.

I cannot recall when my first pimple appeared -- the memory may be repressed -- and so it seems as if I just woke up one day, in my early teens, to a face metamorphosed into an Italian dinner entree.

First, I blamed my parents, speaking of genes, for passing their oily-skin codes down to me. Then I railed at God. Why had He picked on me?

But I abandoned Him shortly thereafter when, delving through my older sister's first-year philosophy textbook, I realized, with sour satisfaction, that my acne was a perfect, albeit gruesome, illustration of the problem of evil.

God, being supposedly omnibenevolent, could have no conceivable use for things such as pimples, which caused so much suffering. Ergo, He could not exist. Having banished the divine, I felt briefly omnipotent myself.

Then I caught an accidental glimpse of my reflection in the hallway mirror and realized my victory was entirely pyrrhic. A double-yolker on the end of my nose the next morning added to my dubious spoils.

But I felt rather than saw this pustular prow, for I had come to avoid mirrors like a vampire. I danced an afflicted, solo tango wherever I went, jerking my gaze from any surface with even the hint of a reflective property -- thus hoping to retain a shred of vanity.

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© 2005 The Washington Post Company


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