I’ve noticed lately that I’ve been having little snippets of conversation with my students and my husband about “looks”. Body image. Attractiveness. And so on. I also have two young daughters, who are going to grow up to hate some part (or parts) of their body. I know I did (hate parts of my body, that is). I still do. So now I’m going to point some of the parts of my body that I perceive as being my flaws, the physical things that I have lamented possessing since I was able to look in a mirror and see myself not as others saw me, but as the worst physical version of myself. Which translates roughly to “sometime in my early teens.”
I hate my nose.
As soon as my nose was no longer a little kid nose and had taken on the shape it would have for the rest of my life, I stopped liking it. I thought it looked like a ski jump. It’s too narrow, and it’s pointy, and a bit too long, AND it also sports too-large pores and the skin is so oily there and OHMYGOSH why do I have this ghastly protuberance on the front of my face????
It also aggravated me to no end that my nose is neither my father’s or my mother’s nose. My dad’s is narrow and straight, but without that lift at the end. My mom’s is small and perfectly suited to the size of her face (she’ll probably disagree with me here, but that’s her own blog post to write). (Also, she doesn’t blog.) (And I’ll probably get a phone call about this and have her complaining into my ear about WHY ON EARTH I’m talking about my wonderful nose that is beautiful and couldn’t be any more symmetrical with my face AND ALSO why I would say that her nose is perfectly suited to her face? DON’T I KNOW it’s a horrid proboscis she’s had to live with for her entire life? This is just an assumption, of course.)
Anyway, I don’t like it. There have even been moments (fleeting, like gone-in-the-blink-of-an-eye flashes of stupidity) when it crossed my mind that if I had the money, or if there existed an amazing plastic surgeon of foolproof talents, that with just a little snip or a tuck here and there, I could have…
No. NO. I would never allow myself to follow that train of thought for very long. Because I know what happens to people who tinker with their sniffers. I won’t name names, but you’ve seen them. The nostrils look strange, and the corners are weird, and you know – you just KNOW that something has been done to that thing. Like that little wool sweater you had, but you accidentally threw it in the dryer on the super hot shrink cycle and it comes out looking like it wouldn’t fit a baby doll. Like THAT.
So I would never even give serious consideration to going under the knife, because as much as I make a lemon-pucker face of dissatisfaction every time I look at my nose in the mirror, I’d rather keep the nose I have than end up with something that looks like I picked it out of a catalog.
But ANYWAY, my nose.
Now, I said that neither my mother or my father have my nose, but I did get it from my father’s side of the family. I’ve been told it’s a Scandinavian nose, that it can be traced back to Wisconsin and then back to the shores of Sweden whence my dad’s family sailed many moons ago. And there are times when I pop ABBA’s Greatest Hits into the player and belt out “Fernando” at the top of my lungs while imagining that one day, I’ll wander back to my native land and my people will not hesitate to welcome me with open arms because they’ll see my nose and they’ll recognize that I am one of them and that I belong. And then we’ll all eat fish and some kind of baked good with cardamom in it and watch the Eurovision song contest together.
Or something like that.
So chances are, at least one of my kids is going to dislike their nose. They might end up mine or their dad’s or some other thing dragged out of the gene pool from four generations back. And they’ll hate it, and they’ll poke it, and they’ll wonder why their nostrils have to be so funny looking and blame me (or their dad) for gifting them with something more suited to a walrus.
And I’ll be there for them. I’ll let them know that I didn’t like my nose, that I still don’t (no matter how many times my husband kisses it and tells me it’s beautiful), but that it’s part of me, that it keeps me from looking like everyone else (which would be totally boring, as my five-year-old daughter has already taught me), and that I’m showing off a wonderful part of my family every time I raise my chin and wrinkle my nose with pride.
A nose that I don’t like.
Well, I guess I do like it. In a way. Because it’s me, isn’t it? It’s a part of me, ski jump and all.
And seriously. Those tiny, little surgically-altered nostrils? Absolutely terrifying.