cosmetic surgery doesn’t have to be shameful

When people imagine someone who has had plastic surgery, they often imagine a woman with pushed up, too-round breasts and a stretched, unnatural face. There is something sad about her. It is sad that she “needs” it. It is sad that she is vain enough to get it. She lacks character, she has the wrong priorities, she is admitting defeat. She is, above all, superficial.

No one can ever guess by looking at me.

The end result is nothing like the stereotypes, so people say things in front of me about women who get plastic surgery. Those things are never nice. Sometimes I just listen, too uncomfortable to chime in with my own story. It’s not a story I like to tell. It’s an awkward story about awkwardness. It implies the kind of self-dislike that feels like a messy secret. It’s inherently painful. It’s also a story with a happy ending.

It’s not just me — I know a lot of women who have chosen cosmetic surgery. Young women who I was friends with for years before they mentioned their breast reduction. Older women who finally whispered something about their face lift, confessional, nervous. Lipo, eyelids, jaw, breasts increased or decreased—some of the surgeries sound (and are) more medically necessary than others and others are obviously purely cosmetic. Like mine. The modern Jewish woman’s procedure of choice: rhinoplasty. The one with the worst name. Rhino. Great. I always have to picture the damn animal clomping around with its massive snout and horn. That’s me!

(I shouldn’t be so hard on the rhino– it’s really kind of noble looking. source)

In my family alone, I can think of three other women who have had nose jobs. Their profiles were whispered about at Passover and Chanukah gatherings. “Did you notice . . .?” I never had.


When, five years ago, I finally sat down with a surgeon and admitted that I really, really wanted to change my face, I asked him not to change it too much. I asked for something subtle. An adjustment. That is usually what I hear from other women who have been in similar situations, too. It is almost never as extreme as people imagine. It is more of a . . . negotiation. Look, nose, you haven’t been good to me. You’ve made me feel shitty for so many years. Every time I look in the mirror, I see a rhino. But I am also not ready to give up completely on the face my parents gave me. I want to accept myself. I am a liberated woman. I have read gender theory. I just want a little tweak.

The truth is, cosmetic surgery made me feel empowered. I was choosing to change something about myself that had distracted me too long. I wanted to think about other things. I wanted to move on, and no amount of pep-talking and gender theory reading seemed to do the trick. I was tired. I was fed up.

(like this scenario, for example, which clearly needs thinking about. source)

I wish I had grown up in a world where appearances weren’t so constantly important. That would be a world where cosmetic surgery was irrelevant. I wish I lived in a world where ugliness was an acceptable option and women were as successful for their minds as their bodies (or, gasp, more so!). But that is not today’s world. It’s just not. And as long as it’s not, for some women, for many women, cosmetic surgery is a relief—a way of controlling something that can feel as though it controls us. At least, it felt that way to me. And the extra judgment, the dismissal of these procedures as a vain, pathetic choice is frustrating. For so many of us, it can be a step on the path to self-acceptance. It might be the thing that allows us to stop thinking about the way we look so much.

It’s ironic – in a culture that gossips endlessly about the way women look, and rags ceaselessly on the public women who don’t look “good enough,” and seems confused about what the hell to do with all of the eating disorders that just keep cropping up among middle-schoolers, we are still awfully critical of the people who seem to be paying enough attention to believe that their appearances are really important.

We wave our hands dismissively at the women who get too caught up in the whole beauty thing, who can’t seem to see beyond it, who pay serious amounts of money to change their surfaces for the sake of looking prettier/more acceptable. We give a little derisive snort. Please. Get over yourself. Cosmetic surgery can sound like giving up and giving in. It’s embarrassing. It’s shameful. Shh . . . don’t tell anyone the secret about your face!

But maybe people just don’t understand it. Maybe it gets too quickly oversimplified. There’s more to it than meets the eye; more, when you search under the surface. Real people’s stories are always more complicated, and it would be interesting to finally hear them. In fact, I think it is time we heard them. Cosmetic surgery shouldn’t have to feel like a secret women need to keep. It shouldn’t be a secret that women are under enormous, regular, normalized pressure to look a very specific way.

After I got my nose job, I didn’t look very different. In fact, I looked so much like I’d looked before that no one even noticed. But something changed in my mind. I was done worrying about my nose. I had done what I could. I had gone all the way. And I was ready to let it go.

(and think about what life would be like here. source

This piece appeared originally on Daily Life

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Cosmetic surgeries stories anyone?

Unroast: Today I love the way I look in really big earrings. Always. Always.


Kate on June 17th 2013 in beauty, body, nose

42 Responses to “cosmetic surgery doesn’t have to be shameful”

  1. Mirah responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 10:46 am #

    Thank you for writing this post. I agree with you that cosmetic surgery is not something to criticize, but rather something to celebrate. The science backs up your experience, that your nose job ended your insecurities in that area. This study found that cosmetic surgery really does make people happy in the long term, as almost nothing else can do:

    Given the proven power of cosmetic surgery to increase people’s well-being, I think the real question becomes, why would we ever criticize someone for seeking to make themselves happier through a safe and effective method? I have long believed that there is something rather sinister about criticizing women who choose cosmetic surgery. Such criticism boils down to the rather medieval claim that “natural” beauty is some kind of divine marker of virtue. According to this underlying assumption, if you are not born beautiful (by whatever standards you and society choose), you do not deserve to look that way. In other words, most women do not deserve to be happy with how they look. The incredible thing about cosmetic surgery is that it has made physical beauty – something that used to be available only by luck of birth – accessible to everyone. I see the increasing affordability and safety of cosmetic surgery as the democratization of beauty.

    This claim extends to age as well. I, for one, am happy that cosmetic surgery is available because I do not have to fear “not aging well.” If at some point in the future I come to be unhappy with an aspect of my face or body, I can always fix it. Just as cosmetic surgery lifts the hopelessness of being born into a body we do not like, it also lifts the fear of growing old and ugly. But the same critical voice that says women do not deserve to change the face they are born with also says women over a certain age no longer deserve to feel beautiful. I, for one, think I deserve to feel beautiful my whole life, and I plan to use all the tools available to me to achieve that.

  2. morgaine responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 11:03 am #

    As a model/stylist/general sartorial artist, I thank you so much for writing this. It’s long been my position that being truly feminist means tolerating *whatever* a woman chooses to do with her body, no matter how uncomfortable certain options may make you. Telling a woman she *can’t* model/sell her sex/get plastic surgery is far more misogynist than doing any of those things.

    I know it’s not nearly the same, but I’ve gotten some of the same critiques about my love of and dedication to fashion. “She’s obsessed with clothing and she wears a pound of makeup – she must have something to hide.” Far from it – consciously choosing those things makes me feel empowered as all hell. I think it’s so important to remember that we never know what goes on in people’s heads, and telling them what their motivations are – that they’re sad, unempowered, selling out – is grossly condescending. And it strips women of agency, if you want to get feminist-theory about it.

  3. Nat responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 11:11 am #

    I think that for some people, cosmetic surgery can feel like giving in to overwhelming pressure. Accepting that practicality that, as you say, a world where appearance doesn’t really matter isn’t the world we live in and that for whatever reason they need to do something that makes moving through that world a little easier.

    Blaming people because they have altered themselves in response to extreme pressure seems like victim blaming to me. If there are people to be blamed, it’s those who actively perpetuate the pressure, like people who make decisions to keep the face and body types that are positively represented in mainstream media on a regular basis so limited.

  4. morgaine responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    @Nat – I would hesitate to use the term “victim-blaming”, because it casts women who’ve had cosmetic surgery as victims. Yes, some women alter themselves in response to societal pressure and low self-esteem, but I wouldn’t feel right presenting them as the be-all-end-all. For some, like Kate, it’s a conscious, empowered choice. For others, it may simply be an expression of creativity. I have a lot of tattoos and I dye my hair pink. That in no way means that I hate my natural skin and hair; it means I just plain take joy in modifying my body and making it my personal canvas. I imagine that some women who indulge in cosmetic surgery see it the same way: these are the only bodies we’ve got, and we might as well tailor them to our exact specifications.

  5. Kate responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    This conversation is already so fascinating– I’m excited to see where it goes!
    Mirah– I hear you. There’s a comfort in knowing that we don’t have to age in whatever way our genes decide we should. There’s a comfort in knowing there are other options. I think you’re brave for voicing this. I also always wonder where the balance should be. And of course it’s different for everyone. But this is a bigger question I’m always asking myself when I think about beauty in general. Where do we stop and start working on acceptance? Is it more important to keep losing weight, for instance, until we meet our own and society’s ideas of slender beauty, or is that slipping into dangerous territory? Or is it, for many people, just not necessary– we just have to learn another way to approach our bodies and losing the weight is only a bandaid or a tedious, endless struggle against the honest pleasure of food? This stuff is so complicated.

  6. em responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 12:35 pm #

    I would have had several cosmetic surgeries as a 19 year old, if my certain health condition had permitted me to undergo any elective surgeries which would have risked my death way too much.

    It just seems like the people who rail the most against society’s pressures on appearance (and I am thinking of numerous examples here, none of whom are Kate) are the ones who cave in various ways, modifying the heck out of themselves trying to find some peace or self acceptance. It seems more like the actual way to challenge society’s view of beauty would be by continuing to let there be all of us in view with our small breasts or large noses or unpopular shade of skin or hairiness or teeth with some personality to the way they’re set or that dare to refuse to be gleaming white, or whatever it is.

    Long ago I watched one of those makeover shows where they diet and do a lot of cosmetic surgeries to the person. (I don’t even know enough about television to say what it was). The cosmetic surgeon was discussing this woman’s large nose and how it was clearly “disfigured”, she definitely needed it fixed.

    Later in the show they interviewed the woman’s mother, who had exactly the same nose. Maybe I’m picky about words, but in these cases nobody was disfigured. Nobody had a cleft lip/palate or had their nose ripped off by their dog while they were passed out drunk. If hereditary genetics are considered disfigurements to be corrected with great expense, not insignificant risk to life, by powerful doctors in whose hands we place our very hope of happiness, this is just so deeply dishonoring to everything I treasure about us as individuals, as families related to one another, as a human race, I don’t know what to think and it hurts my heart so much.

  7. Kate responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    Absolutely. And this is the other side of it– so well articulated.
    What will I tell my daughter if she has my nose? That she should get it “fixed”? No, of course not. It’s more complicated than that. Ideally, I’d want her to embrace it in a way I didn’t/couldn’t. Ideally, I’d want to live in a world where we can all embrace our uniquenesses. Often, it’s those features that i appreciate the most in other people. But, like I said in this piece, sometimes it just feels too hard, too exhausting. And like Morgaine is saying, sometimes it’s just about doing with your body what you want to, because it’s YOUR body.

  8. Johanna responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    Good post. I totally hear you with the “Jewish nose” thing — I don’t like mine (it’s small but has the dreaded “bump”on the bridge) but I’ve never really considered surgery because I’ve never had the money. And I guess it didn’t bother me *quite* enough to prioritize it financially. But I had a friend whose nose completely overwhelmed and changed her face — she was a pretty girl with an awful nose, but all anyone saw was the awful nose. Once she got the nose changed a bit, it allowed her natural prettiness to show through.

    One of my daughters has inherited my nose (although she hasn’t hit the age where the bump becomes prominent yet) and if her nose bothers her when she’s older, I wouldn’t have a problem paying for her surgery. As long as it was just about the nose, and not “nose as symbol of self-esteem”, because there isn’t enough plastic surgery in the world to correct that.

  9. em responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    The empowerment is awesome, though its flip side or its root seems too often (not always) to be in a fearfulness of not having control — control as we age, as life changes our bodies, as we become adults and see ourselves with the world’s eyes, that we aren’t as okay or as beautiful as we once felt as free and happy young girls.

    To be either controlled through that fear of not having control, or to be in a power struggle (against society, ex boyfriends, parents, beauty itself) using one’s own body as the vehicle or victim for the expression of this struggle – I just think about the time before all these modifications of appearance were even possible to the degree they now are. I see so many encroachments where things that were once therapeutic became optional and then optional becomes the expectation both of self and towards each other. Nobody’s eyes want to see unpretty. How dare we subject anyone else or even our own mirrors to unpretty.

    I want to imagine that we will pass through this phase in civilization without all changing ourselves into the same limited set of “acceptable” body parts or body age, but to have actually progressed to a state where we can certainly easily change the things, but no longer feel it is important. Perhaps we have to go through all of this to actually get there.

  10. Mirah responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    Just to flag another issue, I think it is a mistake to assume that women who want to change their faces or bodies are necessarily caving to pressure from society/media/patriarchy/etc. That assumption takes agency away from the women who make this choice. Sure, some women undergo cosmetic surgery to look more like society’s ideal of beauty. But I think many more women just want to look a certain way rather than another way, and it does them a great disservice to label them as victims or wish they would not want what they want. I think the important thing is for women to be able to be happy in our bodies, whether they are the bodies we are born with or the bodies we create for ourselves.

  11. kb responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    morgaine-I agree, telling women they can’t model is misogynist, however, I don’t think that means that we have to pretend that modeling as it is currently practiced doesn’t have harmful effects. I do think that we can talk about problems with the idea that all women are expected to be sexy in addition to whatever else they do and how that is in fact bad without saying that women aren’t allowed to be sexy. An example I can think of is a recent article on the overwhelming difference in amount of clothing able to be worn by men and women news anchors, and how those saying maybe this disparity is a problem being told we don’t want women to be able to look like women. I do want women to be able to look like women, but looking at the alternatives, is this optional? Why did we decide that looking like a women meant showing skin, and only showing skin?
    And I think this comes up here too-do I want to say nobody should be allowed to get cosmetic surgery? No. Not at all. Coercion isn’t going to help. However, does the overwhelming narrative that “you can look perfect, so why don’t you?” hurt, and hurt women more than men right now? Yes. Yes it does. And saying “well, I’m a woman, so you must support everything I do” just doesn’t cut it.

  12. em responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 1:23 pm #

    Last comment!
    I know it’s so complex, and I love thinking about everyone’s perspectives on this.
    To me, if I cannot imagine (and experience) my own self being encased in a flawed body, in a body that ages and loses whatever beauty it did have, a body that will finally fail and die on me, without feeling aversion or fearfulness and compulsion to control and fight against it all in ultimate futility, then I have never attained the truth and the beautiful strength I am here in this life to find.

  13. Kate responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    i’d just like to add that the idea that you can “look perfect” through cosmetic surgery isn’t really right at all. Like I said in the above piece, most of the time, it seems to just be adjustments/tweaking. Except in a few very very rare, extreme cases, there is no turning into a living Barbie doll happening here, there is a subtle shift towards something that may feel more comfortable for the individual.

    And kb, I also think it’s important to stay alert and critical and not unquestioningly support anything just because a group of people we’re a part of or want to support is doing it.

    And Mirah, I think this stuff is tough to diagnose sometimes, because social pressure can be so insidious and subtle, as well as overt and loud, but ultimately, we each do things for our own reasons, and I also think our individual happiness is just as relevant as what’s going on with us as a group.

  14. Kate responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    I’m loving these comments– you write so gorgeously

  15. Melinda responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    Excellent post, Kate! *claps* And I agree wholeheartedly with Morgaine’s post as well. People have judged me harshly at different times in my life no matter what I did…they don’t have to like or agree with certain choices I make, but it seems that a truly feminist attitude is simply to live and let live.

    This post really does coincide with with your post about natural beauty. I love makeup although I don’t wear much of it, and I won’t lie…I would get my boobs done if I had the money. Maybe even a tummy tuck and a nose job. There’s no shame in my game. Society is funny, though. Women are expected to be flawless and yet if people can tell you’ve had a nip or a tuck? Or, heaven forbid, you’re wearing makeup that doesn’t look completely “natural”? Everyone will criticize.

    As a woman of color, there is an added dimension for me. I’m so light-skinned that some folks seem to think I bleach my skin (nope). And my long hair is sometimes thought to be a wig or weave (again, nope). Some people in my community believe that makeup and cosmetic surgery is only for “fake” white women with money to throw around. I’ve never really liked my nose. I know that in theory, my nose isn’t as bad as I think it is. But I would like to have smaller nostrils, a more delicate profile. I would never tell anyone this because I know they would accuse me of “self-hate”.

    I’ve been guilty of snickering at women who have had “work done”, but only if it is obviously bad surgery. Still, I know it isn’t my place to judge because who knows what prompted them to have surgery? I can honestly say that I used to dream about being able to afford breast augmentation and finally having big boobs after years of feeling unfeminine and nasty comments about my body. I still wish I could wear certain clothes without worrying that the top part of my body looks like a little boy.

    I support women’s right to do what they want, as long as no one is hurt.

  16. em responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    Aw, Kate :)
    Hugs to you; your writing is delicious and healing and we are so lucky for it!

  17. Melinda responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    @kb…I see your point and I agree, but I don’t think Morgaine meant that people should like/agree with all the choices individual women make concerning their bodies, just that they should try to be a bit more tolerant.

    Like a woman can enjoy things related to beauty/style/fashion, but it becomes problematic when other people belittle her because of that. I can’t tell you how often I was called “fake” as a young girl because I loved makeup and pink clothes, by other women at that. That’s what strikes me as somewhat misogynistic, as if it’s wrong to enjoy pretty things and feminine pursuits.

    Now the conventional image of beauty that is often held up is definitely a problem because so many women don’t fit that definition. But I would still say that on an individual level, cosmetic surgery isn’t bad…it’s just that some folks take it too far. In a world where we are often judged and defined by appearances, sometimes we do what we feel is necessary to fit in or survive or whatever. It isn’t fair, but that’s the way it is.

    And I wouldn’t say that being a model or wanting to be one is bad, either. It’s the broader societal attitude toward women that is the real problem (so I guess I agree somewhat with what you’re saying).

  18. morgaine responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    @Melinda – you got it. I don’t agree with everything every woman does, and there are some women I actively criticize. That said, I would never claim that my opinion should matter more to her than her own, and I would NEVER tell her what she thinks or why she does X, Y, or Z. I wrote above of “tolerating *whatever* a woman chooses to do with her body, no matter how uncomfortable certain options may make you”, and I meant just that – tolerating, not necessarily agreeing.

    For me, it boils down to believing women when they speak of what makes them happy, and not trying to convince them that they’ve been duped by men/media/inner demons. You never know what might make someone else feel empowered; it often differs radically from person to person. Even if I disagree vehemently with another woman’s choice, I will never claim that I know what is best for her.

  19. skye responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    This conversation has come up a lot recently with regard to Portia de Rossi, whose face looks noticeably different in the new season of Arrested Development. What angers me is that people are willing to laugh at the show’s demeaning jokes about women needing plastic surgery, and making fun of the looks of its own characters, but then criticize de Rossi for her decision to alter her face to keep up with a character whose beauty is supposed to be her main asset.

    I was recently privy to a conversation in which Meg Ryan’s face was compared to an asshole because of the plastic surgery she’s had. I pulled up recent pictures of her on my laptop and said, “you think her face looks like an asshole? I see a beautiful woman in this picture. In what way does she look like an asshole?” I passed the computer around. Lots of uncomfortable silence followed and people were forced to agree that in no way does her face look like an asshole! I hope they’ll think twice before describing a woman like that ever again.

  20. kb responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    the one thing about believing women-I do believe it makes them happy. However, if that’s harmful for society. . . what? I don’t want to live in a world where “too bad if it makes you happy, not allowed” but at the same time, I do think that women (and men, though the particulars here are skewed heavily women) are sometimes made happy by things that are not good for society. And I admittedly don’t have an answer.
    Kate-true, I was thinking of advertising more than individual experiences. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any actual human being say they’re going to look perfect, though I have heard ads for plastic surgeons advertising that.

  21. morgaine responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    I think disallowing sovereignty over one’s body, even in the name of the greater good, is far more harmful to society than any personal choice one could make.

  22. Kande responded on 17 Jun 2013 at 5:49 pm #

    If someone is truly having just a minor tweak or adjustment done, then to criticize them is like criticizing someone for cutting or dying their hair/wearing makeup/shaving or waxing etc. – in other words creating in their mind an improvement or enhancement to what already exists. If on the other hand someone is doing a more drastic change … then to me it isn’t about criticizing them or looking down on them – but more trying to find out what the “flaw” is they are wanting to “fix”, why do they think it is a flaw ( why aren’t large noses symbols of beauty??) and in what way do they think their life will improve? Exterior fixes don’t tend to help interior wounds. As for worrying about the message to our kids well … I hate my nose but won’t change it because I know my daughter has my nose, and it would break my heart for her to find fault in her features. But to be fair – she is her, not me, and has her father’s genes, so maybe that makes a difference as while she resembles me is not my twin. Maybe my nose just needed her other features to draw out it’s beauty? But keeping my nose while changing every other feature seems a bit extreme – no to mention if we had that money to spare, my husband would probably rather I lift my saggy-post-breastfeeding boobs ( whereas I actually don’t mind having my hard work of having birthed and nourished two kids on display, and hey, if they are low enough I don’t need to stress about not having a perfectly flat tummy as they will cover it quite nicely ;) lol.

  23. Rapunzel responded on 18 Jun 2013 at 9:58 am #

    I’ve always had a…erm…”beauty mark” *coughMOLEcough* …on my face since I was a kid. I’ve always hated it and I’ve always wanted to get it removed. My family objects because then I wouldn’t be “me” but I beg to differ. It’s always made me uncomfortable. There’s a sort-of friend that I have who has one in almost the same place, and we’ve called ourselves “mole twins” before, which is humorous. But she’s thin and pretty and it makes her prettier, whereas I’m definitely not so it just makes me uglier and gross. There’s a difference in my opinion. Like someday I’ll be that nasty old hag with a big hairy mole. I can’t pull it off like some people can. I want this thing off my face!

  24. Ann responded on 18 Jun 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    For some reason, when I read this article, it made me think of a C.S. Lewis quote: “You do not have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” Now, I realize that not everyone shares my Christian religious views. But it makes me wonder how others see themselves. To me, my body isn’t really who I am at all- it is just the wrapping, I guess you could say. And I will be the same person no matter what my body looks like, and I will be the same even after it is gone. I’m just curious- do others feel that their body is a big part of who they are? I realize it can affect the way others treat us, but I am more interested in how others identify with their bodies, and if they feel that changing their bodies really changes who they are.

  25. Cari Ellen responded on 18 Jun 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    I really loved this post. I confess – I had a nose job, too. I wasn’t really supported by my family. They didn’t understand, thought I was beautiful as is. Which of course I was, but still, same as you, every time I looked in the mirror it was the thing that stuck out (no pun intended). It was one of 2 things that if I could change about my looks, I would. I also desperately wanted larger breasts, but implanting them, for some reason at that time, had more of a negative stigma to me. That, plus my amazing doctor (bless his heart!) who, upon seeing my A cups at the pre consultation, immediately declared “I would not touch your breasts, they are perfect.”

    But anyway, getting back to the nose job. My Aunt actually sent me a handmade card. It had a collage of noses pasted on the front. On the inside it said “At what price beauty?”. She also had spoken to me about being sad that I was removing a family trait, and in some way removing a bit of my heritage. I felt really bad about that, but still, my desire for a ‘better’ nose still won out.

    I love my nose now. And I couldn’t be happier that I did it. My only concern are my daughters. Explaining it to them one day, without giving them the impression that you need something drastic like surgery to be more beautiful. I’ll have to call you, Kate, for some good prepping when that conversation comes up! :)

    Thank you for writing this and helping me to “come out” about this. So many of my friends now don’t know that I had it done, and I honestly would wonder what they might think. Would they think I was superficial? Would it change how they view me?

    Oh, and I still think someday I will have bigger breasts. I’m all done nursing babies, so I am officially ready! Problem is, I am now a holistic freak, so I am waiting for some miraculous natural breast enhancement. If you hear of anything, let me know!


  26. Just responded on 18 Jun 2013 at 9:34 pm #

    Do you think you would have worried about your nose so much if cosmetic surgery didn’t exist?

    I think people accept flaws a lot easier when they can’t be changed than when they can…

  27. Kate responded on 18 Jun 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    @Cari Ellen
    Thanks for sharing! Always interesting to me to come across other women who’ve had nose jobs– I can never guess. It feels sometimes like a particularly personal, thorny issue when it’s considered an ethnic feature, I think. It can be seen as a rejection of your roots or a denial of your group. This is a whole other layer. Your family’s reaction doesn’t surprise me, but I can imagine how difficult that was. I felt guilty over trying to look “less Jewish” (although ultimately that didn’t end up happening for me, anyway, in terms of how my nose turned out), and it was my Jewish grandmother who contributed to paying for the surgery!

  28. Kate responded on 18 Jun 2013 at 10:21 pm #

    hmm…Good question. Maybe impossible to know, but I’d guess that I would’ve felt the same even if it wasn’t an option. There are things I feel that way about that I can’t change, actually. It’s frustrating. But maybe you’re right–Or at least, maybe we just have to learn to cope.

  29. Danielle responded on 19 Jun 2013 at 6:04 am #

    Ive always been insecure about my nose. I thought it would keep me alone forever (bc being single is BAD). It didnt. And now im really not sure. I get more anxious and sad over it on my bad days, but a lot of days its not on my mind. I was looking at pics of myself i took and started feeling down bc i didnt like the way i look.

    Then i thought…what if i get a nose job (as if im anywhere near being able to get one) and i still find something to be upset about or focus negatively on? It would suck to wake up and find out that the nose job didnt fix my insecurities. Which i guess is why in addition to $ im gonna wait until further on in recovery/ therapy to see if it would be a realistic option- at a point where im not constantly down on my body, focused on my acne, etc where i think of a nose job and think “yes all my body image issues will be gone forever!” Im assuming thats not the best frame of mind to have going into it lol. It would take away my nose anxieties, but my idealization/fantasy connects it to aslo clearing my complexion, every blemish, and taking care of unwanted body hair, which ofc wont happen haha.

  30. Kimber responded on 19 Jun 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    Though they’re not often thought of as “cosmetic,” I got braces later in life (senior year of college) to fix some slightly crooked teeth. I remember, pre-braces, feeling embarrassed EVERY TIME I smiled. It’s terrible to have a negative association with such a natural action, and it’s weird how our mind obsesses over things like that. Now, I smile freely, which is probably worth the $4500 braces :)

  31. modified bodies | effervescence responded on 20 Jun 2013 at 10:18 am #

    [...] post by Kate of Eat the Damn Cake is what started me thinking on this in the first place. Thinking, that is, about the conception, in [...]

  32. Lovely Links: 6/21/13 responded on 21 Jun 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    [...] “After I got my nose job, I didn’t look very different. In fact, I looked so much like I’d looked before that no one even noticed. But something changed in my mind. I was done worrying about my nose. I had done what I could. I had gone all the way. And I was ready to let it go.” [...]

  33. BeaGomez responded on 22 Jun 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    I know dozens, if not hundreds, of women who’ve had some sort of cosmetic or plastic surgery who don’t look like the stereotype and who don’t agonize over it. Los Angeles must be the place.

  34. Nathalie Bromberger responded on 27 Jun 2013 at 3:14 am #

    Oh girls, women, I am rather confused right now. Living in Germany and coming from a Family that has lost it’s Jewish Faith somewhere around 1900, I have worn my “Jewish nose” and it’s bump with pride. Feeling connected with women around the World who have similar noses. This has nothing to do with whether or not cosmetic surgery is okay. I’m just kind of sad to hear that de-bumping the (in my eyes) beautiful “Jewish noses” seems to be a regular at cosmetic surgeries…
    And the bump has it’s practical qualities too, by the way,as my glasses never slide down my nose accidentally :-)

  35. Roro responded on 29 Jun 2013 at 2:57 am #

    I totally agree with this article!! Is there any way you could send me your doctors details? I have a large Egyptian nose which I think could do with a bit of a touch up. Moving to New York in a months time and would love some recommendations!

  36. Kay responded on 01 Jul 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    I enjoyed reading this post because I have been struggling with the decision of a cosmetic procedure in my life. I’m a cancer patient and as a result of my treatments my teeth have deteriorated over time. I found a procedure that could repair/rework my whole mouth in one day, but it cost a lot of money. When I opened up to my family about it, they laughed at me for wanting to spend so much money on a ‘vanity procedure’. I’ve been depressed about it ever since, but reading this post made me feel better about what I want. I’m going to go for it now – after I get the money together lol

  37. Eat the Damn Cake » surprise responded on 15 Jul 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    [...] to NYC and stopped eating dessert and realized that I was trying to be thinner all the time, and because of my nose jobs, and because I looked around, and it seemed like every girl and woman I met had also stopped eating [...]

  38. A responded on 07 Aug 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    I really love this post. In a few months I’m undergoing a breast reduction surgery – I’ve always felt that I’ve been born with the wrong body and my size has gotten in the way of my confidence, my activity level and my health. Knowing that surgery was an option made me happy – I could finally have a body that didn’t feel foreign.
    I have had mostly positive reactions. What surprises me, though, are the opinions people feel entitled to give. Many are appalled that I would want to get rid of what so many want. Many inform me that I should ask to be a “C” cup and not a “B” because I have no idea what it’s like to live with small boobs. They are right. But they have no idea what it feels like to be living in a body that feels so distant from my personality. Furthermore, it is my body and I personally don’t feel the need to have larger boobs if the only reason I would be doing this is to please others. What bothers me the most though is the people who insist I really shouldn’t be telling people and to keep it a secret. I’m not ashamed that I’m having surgery. Like you said, I don’t want to feel controlled. I want to spend my time and energy on other things. I know that surgery won’t change the way I think of myself entirely, but I feel very strongly that this decision put me in control and allows me to worry less.

  39. Michelle Christine responded on 19 Aug 2013 at 9:49 am #


    I had a breast reduction and lift. I told the surgeon to make me a full B/small C. I also told him to use his judgement though – I was afraid a bit. What if I didn’t like my new size and felt it looked unbalanced (too small) or strange on my curvy body?

    I wish I had gone smaller. He did a lot of lifting, not so much reducing. I am still pleased with the results, but not ecstatic.

    My mother in law had a nose job and was able to see computer images projecting how she would look. I think that would have been helpful to me – here’s what you look like with C, with B, etc.

    Good luck.

  40. Dr. Michael Chiaramonte responded on 17 Sep 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Thank you for sharing your story, Kate. As a cosmetic surgeon, I have been approached by so many patients who delayed or doubted their desire to improve their looks because of the negative stigma placed on aesthetic procedures by parts of our society. If more women like you share their story, that will go a long way toward helping people make up their own mind. Thank you.

  41. responded on 26 Feb 2014 at 6:49 am #

    Everyone is entitled to change the way their body’s look. They say its not natural? But if it will make you feel better for yourself and be more confident, why not? Isn’t cleft palate “natural” as well? But people agree on treating it to “look better” cosmetic surgery is no different

  42. vahid responded on 26 Feb 2014 at 11:58 pm #


    I used to fully agree with you, but now, being a self confessed plastic surgery addict, I will say, some parts of myself I have improved while others I have distorted. Am I a victim? No, I chose to play into gay societies expectation of perfection and now I have to pay the price. Knowing when to stop is the hardest part, because you will always find something you won’t like, and no, plastic surgery is not the answer because in the indulger, success is often balanced with catastrophe and hardship, any indulger will agree, there is often a horrific botch surgery tale to tell with irreversable damage. In addition we often have distorted views of ourselves, so for those who are imbalanced in their perception, without a clue, will make choices they will later regret and on your body, it’s not something you can easily go back on.