Friday, December 18, 2009

The Skin We Bare

No, this isn’t a post about tzniyus and wearing modest attire, which I am sure was the first thought that came to your mind. Rather, I’m being quite literal.

In basically every single sitcom known to mankind that features a young protagonist (usually in their teens or early 20’s), there will always be one particular episode with the exact same plot. Namely, our hero or heroine wakes up the morning of a highly anticipated date, and discover to his or her horror, that they have developed a pimple in some noticeable location on their face (such as the nose or forehead) overnight. He or she will of course freak out ad nauseum, and friends and family all offer advice of different sorts to conceal or heal the unacceptable blemish, often with hilarious results.

In the real world, however, most typical human beings don’t have perfectly clear skin like the famous TV stars do, and facial blemishes are a fact of everyday life.

I remember that back in my high school days, while attending NCSY Shabbatons, eating a meal at a family friend’s house, or any other social situation that involved being around girls close to my own age, that I was very self conscious of my complexion. Even though I was nowhere near the stage of life when I would begin to date, the mere fact of being in the presence of females made me anxious about what I presumed was their fickle nature regarding minor skin imperfections.

Whether or not middle and high school aged girls really are that finicky about someone’s facial skin was irrelevant then (since I didn’t want a girlfriend based on hashkafic principle of “what’s the point, if you’re shomer negiah and aren’t thinking about marriage?), and more irrelevant now, since dating such young girls is a sick concept that no normal man should think about. My point is that this Hollywood created notion negatively impacted my view of the clarity of my own facial appearance.

The problem is: this fictional perspective still bothers me now – when I am actually dating. I don’t really have what I would classify as “bad skin,” which would entail a constant presence of many pimples spread across various parts of my face. I do, however (like most normal people) get the occasional blemish or two here and there. I then wonder if this will impact my date’s assessment of my general appearance. Do I really lose points on the physical attractiveness scale because of a pimple here or there?

This often makes me grateful of the fact that dates, at least in the beginning of a shidduch, are spaced a week apart. This means that if I, to my personal horror, discover a pimple, I at least have some time to properly medicate it/allow the skin to heal enough to no longer tarnish my complexion. Or, for example, that the blemish appears on my upper forehead, near the hairline, where I am able to fiddle with my hair a bit to conceal the discoloration.

However, my rational side makes me think I’m being unnecessarily paranoid about this. I have friends who, unfortunately, do not ever seem to have totally clear skin. Yet, they go on dates; some have steady girlfriends, while others have gotten engaged and are happily married. So what’s my problem? Am I the only one scarred by this sitcom stereotype? Is there anything to really be concerned about?

Comments from female readers are most appreciated.


  1. i'm a female and i don't care about things things.

  2. Some girls do care a lot about physical appearance, but I don't think anyone would take it so far as to not like a guy because of the occasional pimple. Girls have to deal with that themselves (and obsess over it much more than guys usually do), so they know what it feels like and wouldn't judge a guy based on that.

    Oh, and if guys start making this into a big deal, it will only make girls more insecure about their own imperfections.

  3. I doubt guys will start making a big deal about this. Having thought more about the issue since I posted, I tend to think I was just influenced by the TV shows of my youth with regard to this area. It is good to hear that this concern is basically unfounded, though.


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