It was a typical day in Ms. X’s 8th grade class. She never seemed to be able to steer the class into talking about what we were supposed to be studying. Let’s just be honest...the students were all pretty disrespectful and couldn’t care less what she prepared. Actually, she didn’t mind going off on tangents instead of trying to make us pay attention. I remember somehow she got talking about ACNE as the kids chattered on in their various groups to each other. I don’t know why or how the subject came up. But she was joking around about how unfortunate it is, or something along those lines (all with zero ill-intent, of course!).
There was this guy in my class that always had to give his two cents. He talked loudly as though he expected the whole class to be enthralled with his comments. He and I were almost friends, but we kind of had this rivalry going on. So…back to the story…the teacher was talking about acne and how unfortunate it is, when suddenly this kid turned over to me and said something along the lines of, “Well Ashleigh’s life must be very unfortunate, because she is like, Acne Acre!!”
I usually was able to reply to any insults from him very quickly and laugh things off, but in this case, I was not prepared for the sting of hearing half the guys in the class snorting in derision at his jest. Some girls laughed too, but mostly, they all gasped. All the various audible reactions quickly boiled down to complete silence as all eyes in the classroom locked on me. My best friend at the time was in the class, but had been talking to someone else, so she had not heard what this young man said to me. Even she became silent and looked over at me, confused as to what was going on.
My face had never been so red. I felt the heat of distress flushed all over my body. It was true! I had acne all over my forehead. It was one thing in life I was actually really insecure about. If you have ever seen “Anne of Green Gables,” there is a scene where Gilbert Blythe calls Anne “carrots,” because of her red hair. Well, that scene does not hold a candle to how I felt during that moment. I honestly did not know what to do. I felt like crap but didn’t want to cry in front of everyone. Nor did I think I could get up and smack that boy upside the head. I was rendered absolutely speechless, and the most unbearable lump formed in the back of my throat.
As my thoughts whirled around in my head at 100 miles per hour and as the eyes of the students bored into my soul like a drill, I lost all control of my emotions and put my head down on my desk and just began to ugly-cry. Hot tears splashed all over the desk. The teacher didn’t even know what to do. My best friend ran to my side to comfort me, but to no avail. She then punched the boy in the arm as hard as she could when she found out what he had said to me. He was standing over me, obviously very sorry for what he said, apologizing over and over. He never meant anything by it, and he was just trying to be funny. Nevertheless, I couldn’t stop crying. LOL. The teacher escorted me outside the classroom so that I could calm down without everyone staring at me. I never wanted to go back into that classroom, or see any of my classmates again – especially not HIM!!!
Later, he tried to make up for his actions by bribing me with chocolate and a string of nonstop apologies, but little did he know, chocolate always made me break out even more, so I curtly refused to accept it. When I look back on this whole experience now, I laugh. It is actually quite funny! I was so sensitive. (Funny side note: I am “Facebook friends” with this guy now, but I doubt he will ever read my blog, which is why I feel comfortable sharing this story…)
The nice thing is…. I grew out of that insecurity a few years later, because I learned how to control it. After high school I started to work at a health food store, and discovered that my health was 100% linked to my skin. I ditched all my chemical skin products and opted for the simplest glycerin soap that cost 99 cents, exercised, and ate lots of fruit and vegetables and started juicing, and my skin cleared up a lot. My skin was still very oily, but I had some ladies tell me I would love my skin type in the future. Well, I thought that they were lying, but today I am happy to say that I am 100% proud of my skin, and get complimented on it all the time now. At school, I even had someone ask me what my secret is for looking so youthful when they found out my age. I think it is my oily skin type!!!! HA!
I may have had to suffer more than other girls because of not having perfect skin in Jr. High and High School, but I must say, this led me to having compassion for others and to developing other aspects of myself that I wouldn’t have had time for if I didn’t have these experiences. I have also discovered the key to my own health. I am grateful for everything I went through. It has turned me into the person I am today. I am grateful for the support of my friends and family – who have always loved me no matter what I ever looked like. One last thought is this: Those who matter the most in life are the ones who would never judge you based on how you look, but those who judge you based on your heart. xoxox
~Sincerely, Ashleigh Son