I have bad skin. I do the best I can with it, but sometimes it just looks bad. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I have acne, but apparently other people can’t get over it because strangers are always approaching me and recommending some special face wash or vitamin supplement or medication. It’s outrageous that people feel like my skin is their business, and that they would think it’s okay to talk to me about it. It often happens in public and is more embarrassing than the acne itself because then people stare at me. What can I say to these people to stop the conversation before it starts?
The sort of person who thinks it’s okay to approach a perfect stranger about her bad complexion is not going to be deterred by anything subtle or kind you might say. They are speeding trains of social ineptitude, and their brakes are totally on the fritz. So you can do two things here: actively ignore them in the hopes that they’re going to give up and go away, or use the opportunity to scare the shit out of them to the point where they never talk to anyone outside their immediate families ever again.
The first option involves lots of staring and silence. Look at them as if they’re speaking Klingon and you’re from planet Earth. Commit to no talking and a slightly puzzled, slightly annoyed facial expression. Pretend you’re in a sound-proof Plexiglass box, and that the advice-giver is a yapping Chihuahua on the other side. Eventually, the talking will stop.
The second option will make quicker work of the offender, but will require you to be a little mean. Say, “Oh, thank you. Thank you so much for telling me to wash my face/watch my diet/take a pill. I’ve been waking up every morning, washing my face with Canola oil, and then spreading a thin layer of margarine on it before I leave for work. In the afternoons, I volunteer at a french fry and chocolate factory that only employs people with leprosy. I’ve never seen a dermatologist because I’m part Christian Scientist, part Amish, and part Scientologist. When I eat dinner, I don’t use a napkin! I just wipe my hands on my face. Also, I haven’t changed my pillowcase since 1987. So thank you for your advice. I’ll be sure to try that tomorrow.”