Recap: The Zit or, the Body Stuff Episode
By Laura T.
This episode gets into a lot of heavy female issues that I know we’ve all experienced. The least of these is the cosmetic: teenagers getting zits, the thirty-and-forty-somethings covering their faces with wrinkle cream. It seems that at every age, women have something else to worry about regarding their appearance. I remember the desire to rid my face of zits at all costs, and I dread the day when I’ll swear by Estee Lauder wrinkle creams and “magic” serums.
It starts off with the emergence of a zit on Angela’s chin, which gets progressively larger throughout the episode. To top this off, Patty wants Angela to be in a mother/daughter fashion show with her, a tradition that, in the past, Angela claimed to “like.” But how can she be in a fashion show with this hideous zit?
When you’re a teenage girl, you look for reasons why you are, sadly, “without a boyfriend.” I wrote poems and stories about how sad I was that I didn’t have that Holy Grail of happiness: a boyfriend to call my own. So when Sharon, Angela’s old friend, attaches herself to a cute jock, Angela becomes naturally jealous. Sharon has acquired the most coveted accessory any teenage girl can hope for. Boyfriends validate so much, but the main validation for teens is your attractiveness, and, by extension, your “worth.”
It’s sad to me that so many women have this experience of defining themselves through their relationship status. Why can’t we be happy just being who we are, single or not, looking as we naturally do?
At school, a list of the “Top 40 Freshmen Girls” is circulated, detailing which girls have the “best” of certain attributes. Rayanne wins “most slut potential,” of which she is proud because it somehow signals that boys think she’s attractive. Angela doesn’t make the list at all and is now convinced that she’s somehow “invisible” to boys.
And Sharon? She wins best boobs.
Because of this, throughout the rest of the episode, she is sexually harassed by everyone. In band class, the boys lean over to watch her inhale as she blows on her clarinet. Ah, the awkward sexual tensions in band class, I remember it well.
Later, Sharon tells her boyfriend that, since the release of the poll, 8 guys have asked her out. It’s like she won the boy-lottery, but now all she wants is to give that prize to someone, anyone, else.
Then, Angela and Sharon have it out with each other in the bathroom. Sharon usually does the mother/daughter fashion show too, and Angela wants to know if she’s going along with it this year. Since they’re not really on speaking terms, Sharon is, well, bitchy to Angela, which causes her pent-up jealousy to flare. Angela tells Sharon exactly what the poll said about her, and storms out.
Meanwhile, Patty and Sharon’s mom reminisce about hating their bodies in high school, as they examine the hot model on the cover of the fictitious “American Gal” magazine. It becomes apparent, yet again, that Patty is so out of touch with Angela’s life that she didn’t even know about the “Top 40″ poll. Angela will barely give her mother the time of day, let alone divulge important, embarrassing school gossip to her. It becomes apparent that the fashion show is Patty’s last-ditch effort to force some connection with her oldest daughter.
In the gym class locker room, Sharon is wearing a huge sweatshirt that will hide her assets, and Angela is looking down at her tiny A-cups and thinking she doesn’t “measure up.”
Sharon confronts her boyfriend about the poll, wanting desperately to blame someone for its terrible existence. Long story short, he’s so dumbfounded that he can’t think on his feet, and Sharon decides to dump him.
Then, we see Patty and Angela visiting the makeup counter, where a flattering salesman compliments Angela and woos Patty into buying some wrinkle cream. That night, we get a nice introspective moment, mother and daughter gazing at themselves in the mirror, wishing they could find something that they genuinely accept as pretty, or even “good enough” will suffice.
At school, Sharon’s boyfriend confronts her by stealing her shoe, which happens to be one of those old white Keds with the blue label on the heel. Apparently he does this so she will listen to him as he confesses he likes her for more than just her boobs. It’s a nice moment.
Angela’s feeling down about herself in the bathroom, looking at the “American Gal” magazine. She has a vision of the “perfect girl” standing next to her, complaining about her problems, which consist of dancing too much with her boyfriend, styling her hair, and being told how great she is. It’s the most creative scene in the episode.
Everything comes to a head when Patty finishes the dresses she’s been making for the mother/daughter fashion show. She and Angela try them on, and immediately Angela wants to take it off. Patty doesn’t understand why. She’s feeling betrayed; she put so much time and effort into sewing these garments. But then, Angela confesses that she doesn’t believe she’s pretty. Really, it’s a confession of self-loathing. “You expect me to be beautiful,” Angela says, accusing Patty of judging her every time she looks at her. In the end, Patty is left with Angela’s dress, and no Angela to fill it. She decides to let her off the hook for the fashion show.
At school, an emotional Angela confesses to Sharon she was jealous of her endowments, and Sharon says she’s jealous of Angela’s lack thereof. They make up for the time being, and all seems well.
That night, Angela’s sister Danielle confesses she wants to do the fashion show with her mom. She feels passed over. Angela decides that night to tell her mom Danielle should be her go-to girl.
The ending moment is so sweet it’s really heartbreaking. Angela watches the mothers parade around with their daughters. She astutely asks herself the question of why we, as women, feel trapped in a prison of self-hatred. Why can’t we just be happy with who we are, in the moment? It’s not just a question for women. It’s for all of us. This episode gets to the heart of some of teenage women’s deepest issues, and it rounds out with a sweet segment in which Rayanne and Ricky are standing there supporting Angela, and Angela’s almost crying from her self-realization that maybe, one day, she too can feel beautiful because she loves herself for who she is.