Kate: It’s actually really hard for me to talk about my nose job, because it’s so stigmatized, but let me try. I keep telling myself I’ll start talking about it. I’ll probably post on it a few times, since there’s a lot to the story.
If you’ve seen the video I did you may be asking yourself, “Wait…that’s the nose you ended up with afterward?? Exactly how big was it BEFORE??” The surgery was actually pretty unsuccessful. I was in the 5% of cases where something goes wrong, and my nose now is mostly the same as my nose before, except that the bridge is slightly thinner and it’s crooked where it didn’t used to be. My surgeon looked confused and apologetic. He offered to try again. Thanks, nose doctor.
But rather than get into all the creatively disturbing words I need to use when I yell at the guy, let me talk about the really important part, which was the motivation to get this surgery in the first place.
I used to like my nose, when I was really young. I remember the moment when that changed.
I was fourteen and hanging out with some friends. There was a new girl there too.
She was just standing there, scowling and angry about something she wouldn’t share. Then she suddenly turned to me and said, “You know, I have a friend whose father could help you out.”
I asked, “What do you mean?”
“You know, with your nose.”
I said, “My nose?” I didn’t understand but had an abrupt sick feeling, as though my arms had been pinned and I was waiting to be punched.
“Um, yeah. He’s a plastic surgeon.” Her face said, “Obviously.”
The room was completely silent. I didn’t have any idea how to respond
Then my friend Kaila said, “There’s nothing wrong with Kate’s nose!”
The girl made a little dismissive sound that might have been a laugh. She didn’t believe a word of it.
“I like your nose,” Kaila told me.
“I like it too,” I said slowly. Perhaps amazingly, it was the first time someone had ever told me something negative about my appearance. I couldn’t look at anyone.
In college, I knew the girl had been right. I got a nose job when I was twenty-two, the summer before graduate school. When I told my parents what I wanted to do, Mom was crushed. “I’ve failed,” she said. “I thought I taught you how beautiful you are.”
Dad shook his head sadly, and Mom said, “Why do you hate your own face?” She got up and left.
“I don’t hate it,” I explained to Dad. “I just know I’d be happier if I could make my nose a little different.”
He nodded. “It’s your choice. It’s your face. You’re the one who has to look at it in the mirror for the rest of your life.”
But I’d lied. I did hate it. I hated my face so intensely that sometimes just looking in the mirror made me feel like I would cry with anger and disappointment. How had I become this? It wasn’t anything obvious. No one ever said anything as mean as that girl again. I always had a boyfriend who told me I was gorgeous and perfect and exotically Jewish. But my nose became the symbol of everything unattractive about me. It was the most obviously different thing, in my mind. And I was obviously different.
I thought if I fixed the most obviously bad thing, I’d fix everything I hated about myself.
Did it work? Take a wild guess… It’s really not that simple. Do I regret my decision? No. Because you know what? If I hadn’t done it I’d still be thinking there was a distinct, hugely improved world of self-esteem on the other side of that surgery. And I’m glad I know the truth now.
Everyone: I know this was depressing. Has anyone else gone this far to change the way they feel about themselves? I don’t think cosmetic surgery gets addressed as much as eating disorders. Maybe it should be.