I was sitting at a lounge in downtown Boston in the first week of September. It was my senior year of college and this year I had felt extra excited about reuniting with old friends and making the most of our time together.
Each woman arrived one by one, filing in just as giddy as the next to be reunited. The content was still mostly about men, stress of finding a job, and the latest fashion trends, until one woman chimed in:
“Did you see what I got done!?” I began trying to notice. Was it her hair, did she change her nails, a tan, new outfit?
“My nose!” She said excitedly. “Doesn’t it look awesome?”
She said it in the same fashion that you would refer to getting a new pedicure or a blow out, as if having a surgical procedure was the most casual thing in the world.
I tried to keep it cool and subtly acknowledged that yes, her nose looked “great”. But what I really noticed here was the sinking, sickening feeling I had inside myself.
In front of me was a beautiful girl. She was smart, funny, creative and very beautiful (even before the nose job). This was a woman who truly felt that her amazing characteristics were not enough. She truly felt she had to “fix” herself to feel better.
I honestly can’t say I blame her because I often feel the same way. I frequently feel like the pressures that society places on woman make me also want to “fix” myself to fit into America’s very narrow perception of beauty.
My issue with my own nose began in middle school when a boy told me I should ask my Dad to pay to remove the “stupid potato” off my face. I went home that day and cried.
I had no idea that a nose was something of any importance other than for breathing. I soon found out I was wrong.
In high school, I once had a girl tell me that my nose “would be perfect” if only I considered getting it fixed. Here I was, 15 years old and I kept running into the idea that fixing my nose meant making me a better, happier person, and I truly began to believe it.
I spent hours examining my face, trying to see how bad my nose really looked. I found myself feeling more, and more self-conscious about how big my nose appeared.
When I flipped through magazines, the women that were deemed beautiful were the ones who had perfectly shaped “pixie” noses that were as dainty as could be. But my nose didn’t look like that, people had made fun of me, and therefore, it made sense–I needed to be “fixed.”
I went to college and figured this was an insecurity I could outgrow, only to find that many of my peers’ parents had supported their desire to have plastic surgery.
“It was the most painful experience of my life,” one girl told me. “My entire nose shriveled up like a pig, it bled all the time for a month and I had dark circles under my eyes, but it was totally worth it. You should do it!”
Her suggestion was not meant to be cruel or patronizing. She really thought that my nose needed to be fixed because then I would be more beautiful, thus I’d feel better.
This was not the first time I would hear this. I saw countless friends go under the knife, bleed for days, take painkillers and in the end they all would say it was worth it to “finally feel beautiful.”
I just could not justify paying someone thousands of dollars to literally break my nose and reshape it, all for the promise that this would make me more “beautiful” and make me feel better.
I had to ask myself, “Whom would I really be more beautiful to, the world or to myself? And which one mattered to me more?
I chose myself. The American standard of beauty is narrow, ignorant and discriminates against anyone who goes against the grain of the traditional idea of beautiful.
I could have had a straighter nose, but what would this have really given me? The insecurity was coming from a much deeper place within. If I had gotten a nose job, I guarantee that I would have soon found something else that needed “fixing,” even if it was something that was completely fine.
So here I am. I am 22 years old, I have a bump on my nose, and I don’t feel like it needs to be fixed.
The beauty magazines that fuel female insecurities are paper, literal paper. I am a not paper. I am a human made of flesh, blood and emotions, and I will not willingly cut, fold or shape myself into someone else’s idea of perfection.
I say no to changing ourselves simply because pieces of paper say that we should.