Do I have to love my nose? No. Do I have the right to hate it? Also a no. (ClickToTweet!)
When I tell people I want a nose job, the answer is almost always, “but why?! I love your nose, it’s so unique!”
I have wanted to scream that I don’t want a unique nose. I hated that word. I always wanted to yell: “I just want a normal nose! I just want it to be remarkably unremarkable!”
I don’t necessarily hate my nose anymore, but I still want to go under the knife. Am I a terrible person for promoting self-love in the same breath as expressing my desire to have cosmetic surgery? Am I a hypocrite? Absolutely not.
It is possible to love yourself and still feel insecure about some bits and pieces.
This is my body, and it’s my freaking story.
Fitting In: The East, The West, and Everything In Between
I didn’t grow conscious of my nose until I think around middle school, when I started developing crushes on boys who liked girls with normal, unremarkable noses. This is also when I first started getting into the beauty scene. I would look through magazines and trends on the internet, and copy what I thought must make me beautiful.
Still, none of the boys seemed to like me. I was set on believing it was because of my nose. In hindsight, I now know it’s actually because I was literally wearing my mum’s statement jewelry with bright unmatched clothes from Children’s Place or Winners, styling my hair to make it look even more uneven and shaggy than it already was, and wearing colored lip balm (gasp!) as a way to rebel against my parents. They were adamant I don’t wear makeup until I had at least developed the body to go with it (I was blissfully flat chested and very, very bony).
Then came high school and I remember that I just wanted to fit in. I remember going to gym class and looking at the mirror on the wall, and feeling like a total blemish compared to all the other girls in my class. I looked so different. I was thin, brown, I had barrettes in my hair, and a big freaking nose. I thought I looked like a piece from some weird alien puzzle that someone had determinedly jammed into a painting of what should have been a beautiful natural scene.
I should mention that I am also, incidentally, Iranian. The Middle East, and I’d say especially Iran, is kind of infamous for its cosmetic procedures, most notably for its (sub-par) rhinoplasties. Within Iran, however, getting a nose job is blasé – nearly everyone has one. It’s almost like a rite of passage – you walk, you talk, you get your period, you turn eighteen, you get a nose job, you get an actual job, get married, have kids, grow old, and die. That’s what I thought.
… I just wanted to fit in. I remember going to gym class and looking at the mirror on the wall, and feeling like a total blemish compared to all the other girls in my class. I looked so different.
I remember when I was about 16, I went to Iran after not having visited since I was nine years old, mostly due to the unrest left over from the Green Revolution in 2009. This stage of my life was also the height of my mental carnival debacle, so I was incredibly anxious. I was very aware that I represented more than just myself. As the eldest daughter on both sides, so I was sort of like the face of my family. Not being fluent in Farsi or the flow of Iranian social convention was incredibly nerve wracking.
When I got there and reunited with my extended family, I remember overhearing many people tell me that I had grown into a lovely, respectable young woman… but there was also always a footnote. Yes, I had my dad’s reserved grace and intelligence, my grandma’s twinkling eyes, and my grandpa’s tall height. I had my mother’s laugh, her brightness, her exuberant smile… but I also had my mother’s nose. I was all of these great things, and people (who honestly meant well) told me, “once you get a nose job, you will be truly beautiful.”
Once I get one. Not if. Once.
I remember overhearing many people tell me that I had grown into a lovely, respectable young woman… but there was also always a footnote.
Iranian culture is vibrant, and warm. It embraces individualism, and puts a huge emphasis on art and poetry. It has a long, winding history full of twists and turns. Iranian culture, like many around the world, also loves to have a say on what women should look like. I would say that influence from the West, where button noses are typical, is what made cosmetic procedures (that make Iranian women look more “European”) catch fire. It’s not just noses – bleaching your hair blonde, wearing blue/green colored contacts, and using products to lighten your skin are also staples of most Middle Eastern beauty cabinets, including those of Iranians. It’s not just women! Most men do all of this too!
Part of me wants to rebel against these aforementioned beauty standards and love myself for what I am. But it’s hard because it just isn’t typical to do so.
My mother has had work done, as had many of my aunts, and even my grandma. It’s the norm. These are the women I look up to. They are strong, fiery, compassionate, determined Iranian women. They are mothers, sisters, friends, and leaders. They make life happen, in every way you can describe.
I’m still convinced that any compliment about my nose is a lie.
How My Mum and I Dealt With Sharing a Big Old Nose
I’m just gonna talk about my mum for a second. She is the strongest woman I know, and I never pass up any opportunity to say that. She’s my best friend as much as she is a parent. She has loved me no matter what, which has pushed me to become the person she is proud of. She is, for all the reasons cited above, incredibly gorgeous.
Mum, if you’re reading this, just know that I think you’re objectively beautiful. You don’t need to hear it, but I’m saying it because I know it to be true.
My mum can be self-critical. She has always been into the beauty scene, and had even worked in that industry for a long time… but this is a double edged sword. She professes to me how she feels about herself sometimes, and it can be a little heart breaking. Because we’re so close, she will admit these insecurities to me, as I do to her. We uplift each other.
I’m still convinced that any compliment about my nose is a lie.
When I ask her if she likes her nose, she always tells me that even before her surgery, she didn’t care much for her nose. She tells me how she knew she was objectively pretty before her rhinoplasty because people always told her she was, and getting a nose job was just a way of her taking that beauty a step further. She tells me that though she would have preferred a more natural nose, but she still loves the way her face looks now. She’s comfortable with herself.
Why I Don’t Have to Love My Nose to Be Beautiful
Recently, I’ve got to thinking about the choice of getting my nose done. I’m old enough now to know that I really do want this, and I’m young enough that I won’t have to hide too many photos of my young adulthood after I do (a kind of sad but very real thought). I would rather save up for a nose job than, say, a big wedding.
Then I thought about kids. If I have kids someday, they will most probably have my trademark Iranian nose whether I have a nose job or not. Nothing, not even surgery or hiding photos of myself, can change the genes that I pass on. If my kids have my nose and grow up to hate it, I’m gonna feel like it’s my fault.
If I don’t go through with rhinoplasty and become the strong, fiery, compassionate, determined role model that the Iranian women in my life have been for me, my nose won’t matter.
I do still want to get my nose done, but it’s important to note that I don’t hate my nose anymore. I don’t even dislike it. This is an essential step in my self-image to achieve, especially before I go into the surgery room. I’m not having a nose surgery because I think I’m ugly, because I want to fit in, or because I want to kick “unique” in the ass anymore. I want to have a nose surgery because I know that it will make my objectively happier. Altering myself is not something I have to do anymore. I just want to do it. I’d do it for the right reasons, reasons that won’t turn into regret.
Now, as of this point in my life, I don’t have much feeling towards my nose. I still habitually flinch when I see photos of myself from the side, but otherwise I look in the mirror and I see my face as a whole. I see my dad’s reserved grace and intelligence, my mother’s laugh, her brightness, her exuberant smile. I see my big doe eyes that my boyfriend adores so much. And yes, I see my mother’s nose. She gave it to me. It’s a part of my gorgeous, incredibly resilient mother. I was gifted her likeness when I was born, which includes her nose.
Do I have to love my nose? No. Do I have a right to hate it? Also a no.
My nose is a part of me. It’s a part of me that sticks out weird and makes me look like a parrot. Parrots are cool, though. They are colorful and loud, like my country’s cultural scene, and I don’t have to have a perfect button nose to fit into the West or the East.
One day, I want my kids to look at me and feel inspired by the woman I am, so that they can see beauty in the features, both physical and otherwise, that I have given to them.
When I look at pictures of myself ten, twenty, forty years down the road, I want to see the bright, respectable young lady that my family tells me I am, and smile nostalgically when I think of all the things I got up to when I was young.
I don’t have to love my nose, but I do have to appreciate it for what it is. Maybe, one day, I will even puff up my chest, look at myself in the mirror, and firmly say, “I have a unique nose.”
Unique?! You’d use that word?!
Yeah. Maybe that word isn’t half-bad.