It’ll come as no shock you to learn that boys and girls in these modern-day United States, fed on country-fried steroidal chicken breasts and good ol’ American colas, have begun to hit puberty at earlier ages than they ever have before. This might actually be a good thing in some respects, since early adolescence may point to improvements in our overall nutrition (modern people no longer eat straw and pebbles like their 17th-century ancestors), as well as give kids a longer grace period during which to familiarize themselves with their own sexuality. Early puberty may also, unfortunately, give kids a longer bout with the great scourge of adolescent self-esteem, acne.
According to some grim, soothsaying dermatologists interviewed by USA Today, early puberty means earlier appearances of acne for kids as young as seven, which is really a shitty way to be purged of childhood innocence and be rudely, prematurely introduced to the crippling self-consciousness of adulthood. The report paints a (fairly broad-stroke) picture of grade schools populated with acne-riddled nine-year-olds, who, rather than playing freeze tag at recess, are trading skincare regimens:
More pre-adolescent children, ages 7 to 12, are developing acne, dermatologists say.
"It is common for 9- to 11-year-olds to have early acne, and sometimes this can be quite significant," says Lawrence Eichenfield, chief of pediatric and adolescent dermatology at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego. The earlier onset of acne has been linked to the start of puberty at younger ages, he says.
That’s about as deep into the data as USA Today is willing to wade — the only real proof of this early acne development is a 2010 study in Pediatrics that found “the percentage of girls who had breast development at ages 7 and 8 is greater than for girls born 10 to 30 years earlier.” Kids are hitting puberty faster, so, ipso facto, acne happens earlier, too, which is a real bummer considering that there’s an entire industry of self-conscious adults waiting to prey on the deepest insecurities of newly-awkward preteens by offering rosters of skincare products and tips for ways to spend more time in the mirror, fretting.
Case in point: after introducing the idea that seven-year-olds can now expect a smattering of pimples, the USA Today article spends the rest of its time giving out obvious skincare tips. Back to school, kids! Hold that mirror close to your faces and fret — you’re growing up so fast.
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