I look deep into my face in a circular mirror smudged with impressions. Some fingerprints and dental debris. Did I make this mess? Maybe they are messages from the other side? I stop and wipe them away. I pause and consider my reflection which I barely have the effort or the energy to do most days. Tiny holes and small pinpricks. I see my eyes and catch my consciousness for a second only to dart them away. Hazel and unsure. I don’t know that person. I see instead my pores. I wish I could wipe these pores away. They are deep and they look dirty. Small sad grey dots. Like the benday dots that make up a Lichtenstein girl. But she was tragic and powerless somehow. Her dots represented her vulnerability as a feminine force. A beautiful texture that defined the smoothness of her skin. Mine stand in for pointless insecurity. Hours wasted in front of a mirror picking and poking and pointing out these pores.
How come other people don’t have pores?
Does their skin not need to breathe?
Doesn’t their skin need to soak in the oxygen to cleanse them from the inside out?
Those dirty souls need a cleaning too.
As a child I’d steal Biore pore strips from my mother’s caboodle.
Pink and purple.
Where did that name even come from? I wonder quickly if it was some rich guys’ last name? Where was he from? In 2018 I wonder if Caboodle’s even exist anymore, note to self to investigate via Google.
As a teen I’d sneakily take out a pore strip while my mother worked long hours helping out the elderly. She had every beauty product and satisfaction guarantee there was. Slimmer stomach, larger breasts, toned abs and Caboodles. She didn’t even have pores with her fair skin and clean complexion but felt that she needed to erase something from her handsome face. I always disagreed but she never heard me.
After school, I’d discard the pore strip from its wrapper. A wet slap of soft paper. This would be my eraser. I’d put one over my nose and drape it from one cheek to the next. Only to notice it barely covered the bulk of my tiny grey pores. My face tightened and tightened into a taut thing. I felt ten years younger, although I was only seventeen. I’d smile at my reflection, imagining a face pure and clean. Clean and clear. I’d anxiously wait the recommended minutes...hours...days to achieve that smooth veneer. Only to realize they were still there.
They were small and many. My intimate army of pores were my closest friends that only I could see or maybe some boyfriend with a magnifying glass. They decorated the curvature of my soft cheeks, defined my straight nose, and enhanced the cleft on my strange chin. I remember the hours and hours I spent torturing those pores in hopes they would someday vanish--effortlessly, with a pore strip and a little bit of time, just like I had seen my mother do. I had always been told not “look so hard” or “be so negative” towards myself or my physical appearance. It was never easy in my house where one was praised mainly for beauty or a cute shirt; not academics, or athletic achievements. So naturally, in a home filled with airbrushed models on glossy pages, I was quick to scrutinize myself down to the tiniest of details. My poor army of pores.
Now I raise a glass of gas water to the skin that holds me together so dearly as I pace through my life with flaws, bumps, moles, and beautiful pores. Pores that breathe, that keep me a foot, that encourages the occasional breakout. In 2018 I am thirty years young with a kinder gentler heart and I can smile to myself with a new ambition, to not look so hard and to love the skin that covers my bones. When I pass by my reflection I caringly whisper to myself, “these are my pores. I love them.”
Jennifer Belair Sakarian is a mixed media visual artist and writer. Her writings work in tandem to her visual art and act as cathartic experiences. Much of her poetry, prose and short stories create conversations around ideas behind femininity, the natural world, and mental health. Through her writings, she aims to expose the fluidity of stream of conscious thought patterns and the innate complexity of identity all the while having a good laugh...or not. She will be independently publishing her first book which will feature poems and illustrations this coming March titled, "I'm okay, okay?"
Raised and educated in the Midwest, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking and Art History from Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan and her Master of Fine Arts in Printmaking from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan where she is currently a teaching assistant in the Printmaking Department.