Originally published as part of the University of Oxford’s Failed Novelists Society Anthology.
When I was young, I was terrified by my pores. I asked my mother once what the tiny little holes I saw near my newly emerging arm and leg hair were. They looked alien to me — little holes through which the hairs were breaking out of my skin and invading my body. I had learned from my mother and aunts’ obsessions with waxing various parts of their body that hair was considered ugly and dirty and shameful. I was mortified to have not gained some sort of reprieve from this circle of tireless shame and wax and removal and rituals of purification. I was ashamed and then what else was there?
My mother told me that the holes were simply ways for my skin to breath. The thought of my skin breathing in its own right without my permission, like mounds of flesh heaving and sighing and rising and falling in such scandalous ways over which I had no control filled me with complete horror. This was puberty. I would sit for hours on end staring at the holes on my arm, in my skin, breathing in a fashion that seemed altogether separate from myself.