As I write this, I’m having a little bit of trouble breathing. It’s like I have a perpetual cold. I’m completely used to it, but when I think about it, I realize that it wasn’t always like this. In fact, the reason it’s like this now is that I feel bad about my face.
My college boyfriend talked me out of getting a nose job. He was appalled by the idea, perhaps to his credit. But I couldn’t talk myself out of it.
When I finally went to the cosmetic surgeon he took one look at my nose and said, “Oh yeah. Could definitely use some work done.” He was a very blunt guy, and I appreciated that about him. I appreciate him a little less after two surgeries and a nose that doesn’t look significantly different but doesn’t function quite as well.
Cosmetic surgery isn’t like in movies and on TV. They don’t take the bandages off and reveal a drastically improved visage. It’s months and months and months of waiting for the swelling to go down. I taped my nose every night.
Want to know something weird? When I had a guy over and was getting ready for bed, not ONE of them ever asked why I was putting tape on my nose. At first I thought that would be the most awkward thing ever.
“Wow, you look amazing in those tiny—wait. Do you have tape on your nose?”
“Why the hell would you put tape on your nose??”
“Rhinoplasty. That’s why. Rhinoplasty.”
Who can hear or see the word rhinoplasty without thinking of a rhinoceros? No one, that’s who.
I felt a little like a rhinoceros, with my big nose. I felt like it had no right to take up so much of my face. Like the radical unfairness of the cosmos had been acted out on my face. Like everyone who looked at me knew it. Actually there were two options for people:
- They recognized how awful I looked
- They dismissed me immediately, without realizing why
It wasn’t always that bad. I had plenty of days when I looked in the mirror and thought I looked great. I acted confident. Confidence is a good act to learn to perform. It’s not as hard as it looks.
But the days when I looked in the mirror and felt unattractive, I blamed everything on my nose. Because it’s easier to blame one thing. I think politics works a lot like that. People work a lot like that.
A nose job is kind of brilliantly symbolic. You’re literally cutting something off that you don’t like. Sometimes, like with Michael Jackson, you cut off most of it. With me, only a little. Not nearly enough, as I discovered months after the first surgery, when I still looked like someone whose appearance I didn’t like.
In perfect honesty, I don’t regret it. I know I’m supposed to conclude with some statement like, “Don’t change yourself, you’re perfect the way you are!” But I prefer my new nose to the old one. It’s like an enemy became a casual acquaintance.
An acquaintance who sometimes prevents me from breathing normally.
I’ve moved on to blame other parts of my body for my insecurities. Sometimes it’s my neck. Sometimes it’s my eyes. But I’m not going to run back and get those parts adjusted, because it’s not really worth it. You can save up all your money and spend it on every cosmetic surgery you can think of, but there will probably still be something left to hate about yourself. Or, perhaps even worse, after all of it, you’ll look in the mirror and realize you still don’t like the things you changed. Because they can’t change enough to make you into whatever your image of beauty is. Those images of beauty are brutal.
I may have a new nose, but my mind is about the same.
* * * * *
Un-roast: My beauty marks. Some people say “moles.” Forget that!
Everyone: Anyone else had cosmetic surgery? Check out Penelope Trunk’s take on it for a stance that’s still pretty radical.
And come back tomorrow for an amazing guest post by Stephanie, who disagrees with me on many things and isn’t afraid to tell me why.
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