My Dirty Little Secret In the Powder Room

My Dirty Little Secret

“I fear I’ve always had this bizarre addiction…”


I’ll never forget one of my most embarrassing moments—my college roommate walking in on my boyfriend and me. She barged through the door to discover me straddling him on the bed, fire in my eyes, hands splayed across his naked flesh . . . squeezing blackheads on his back. Perhaps it was a testament to his adoration for me that he would willingly participate in this degrading ritual, but I couldn’t help it. I left his face alone, but as for his back—I simply had to squeeze them.

It’s true—I adore the satisfaction of picking and squeezing, and apparently it’s even more satisfying when it’s on another person’s body. Over the years, very few have allowed me to indulge this disturbing compulsion, and I’ve had to settle for routinely applying pore strips to my own face, slowly pulling the strip off to reveal the satisfying results.

The biggest test of my will was when both of my daughters had baby acne. Never once did I give in to the urge to squeeze those tiny whiteheads, and I rewarded myself with daily armfuls of chocolate. That cradle cap nearly did me in though; I could hardly stop myself from picking their tiny little scalps, though I did salve my own itch by regularly combing through their hair with a little olive oil, sloughing off that maddening crust.

I fear I’ve always had this bizarre addiction—when my brother came down with chicken pox in kindergarten, I coaxed him into playing a “game” that involved me looking for bugs in his hair; in reality, I was picking the chicken pox scabs off his head. I know, I know, I’m a monster.

Perhaps my most horrifying offense was when my preschool-aged daughter had an unexplainable blackhead on her nose. I told her I needed to wipe some food off it, and swiftly extracted that shit before she knew what hit her. I don’t think it even hurt—I’m that good.

In just a few short years, the first of my daughters will enter the realm of puberty, and I have no idea how I am going to keep my hands off her early-adolescent, blemish-riddled skin. Will I stealthily creep into her room in the middle of the night, armed with an array of covert pore strips? Surely after the first unauthorized “let me just get that eyelash” sneak zit attack, she’ll be onto me, and will never let me within three feet of her during her waking hours. Maybe I should start praying for clear skin now. Or see a therapist.

Perhaps the answer lies in me finding a new profession—I’ve always dreamed of being an aesthetician. Then people will actually pay me to squeeze shit off their faces! I can’t imagine experiencing a greater thrill than going to work every morning knowing I had hours of pore-clearing to look forward to!

Fortunately for us all, my husband has perfectly clear skin—not a clogged pore in sight. There’s also no way in hell he’d allow himself to be my “client.” Is this a woman thing? You know, the term “nit-picking” didn’t originally mean being a soul-crushingly critical bitch to one’s partner; female primates literally picked nits off their partner’s fur. Maybe it’s encoded in our DNA—surely I’m not the only wacko who enjoys such a practice?

So ‘fess up: what’s your secret weird, gross, or guilty pleasure?


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Stephanie Sprenger is a freelance writer, blogger, music therapist, and mother of two young girls. She can generally be found in front of her laptop, behind her guitar, or underneath a pile of laundry.

Keep the conversation going...



  1. says

    I confess: I AM A BONAFIDE NIT PICKER! When one of my kids got lice last year, I was absolutely disgusted at first…until I discovered how much I enjoyed the daily combing/picking ritual. It was so strangely satisfying, I briefly considered becoming a professional Lice Lady. I hear they make big bucks! Steph, maybe we could open our own salon together? Pickers R Us!

  2. says

    I pick too! I’ve snuck up on my husband before and baby acne drove me insane.I told my kids that it’s part of my job as their mom to pick at them.

  3. Irina says

    My husband is a picker, and loves it when I pop his zits. But the only place I ever get acne is my buttcheeks when is wear pads(
    I’m not against picking his, he doing mine not so much. That shit hurts(

    • says

      I am a little jealous that your husband loves it when you pop his. Sigh. But I’m with you- I wouldn’t let anyone without an aesthetician license near my skin! Ouch!

  4. says

    You’re a brave lady for sharing your dirty little secret on this intimate little forum… :-) I can’t help myself with my sons’ cradle cap. Also like scratching and picking the sand out of their hair once they’d spent some time on the beach.

  5. Kellie says

    My husband once asked me, “Is that all you see when you look at me? Something to pick at?”

    Sigh. Yes, for the most part, that is all I see. A bump to squeeze and a wayward hair to pluck.

    I just can’t help it!!!

  6. says

    I love ear cleaning. I have the most boring ears ever with nary a wax ball ever, but both my kids have yellow ear gunk regularly and I am obsessed with cleaning them. You should totally be an assistant at a dermatologists office since they get to do all of the popping. I had a weird white bump on my face for weeks and it didn’t go away and I went to the dermatologist. She said it was a zit and sent the assistant in to pop it and she went nuts on some other microscopic things she found. She definitely had your addiction!! We could start an assembly line for our kids – you pick their zits, I’ll clean their ears and Leslie can check for lice.

  7. says

    Stooooop I’m laughing so hard right now. I also tend toward the obsessive compulsive. I’m not sure you are surprised. But i also have one evil pore on my back for which my husband is regularly called to duty. 😉

  8. says

    I totally used to do this with my high school boyfriend. In my twisted teenage mind it was a sign of how comfortable we were together and thus “meant to be”. Sigh, glad I wasn’t the only one though!

  9. says

    I like plucking unwanted hair. It is strangely satisfying. But I don’t inflict my passion on anyone else – just myself. But for those us us on the obsessive compulsive side there is such a thing as trictolomania where people like to pick & pluck.

    • says

      Ooh, I forgot to even mention the hair-plucking! I’ve only ever plucked my own hairs, but it is tremendously satisfying. I feel like buying myself a drink every time I conquer on of those stubborn chin hairs.

  10. says

    Be an aesthetician! You can get paid big bucks to get rid of my blackheads and tell me to clean my iphone more so it doesn’t give me blackheads on the side of my face.

    But you better give me a discount. After all, you would be following my advice….

  11. says

    OMG it’s one of the most satisfying things in the world. My husband is horrified by it. I blame my brother. OH And an ex boyfriend who had the best back zits ever.
    My poor face.

    • says

      I’m truly devastated that there is nobody in my life now who will let me squeeze their blackheads. My poor daughters have no idea what lies ahead for them…

  12. says

    I’m a picker, too. Hubby doesn’t have good back zits, though, so that’s no fun. I absolutely love cleaning my kids’ ears. They are Asian and the pediatrician told me that Asians have different ear wax. I don’t quite buy in to that, but he told me to use oil in their ears nightly to soften their hard “Asian ear wax”. I don’t remember to do it but about once a week but it does make their ear wax nice and soft when I dig it out. They get a big kick out of looking at the Q-tips. Strangely, this thread is not grossing me out.