Since my very early teens I have wanted to have plastic surgery. I would spend hours trawling the internet for before and after photos of rhinoplasty, dreaming of the results I might get, or comparing my nose to that of celebrities – I decided early on that Emma Watson had the perfect nose and would be forever dismayed at how my nose was humongous compared to hers. I dreamt about how I would save for the surgery, calculating how many hours I would have to work in order to save the money, researched techniques and prices and even went as far as to email clinics and ask for a quote. I hated my nose so much I didn’t (and still don’t) want people to look at me – for a long time I’ve avoided looking at other people in the hopes that they will in turn not look at me, and that this will somehow hide my facial features. Just the thought of someone seeing how I really look feels painful.
But recently I’ve started to have a change of heart.
It began when I started to realise how the media has done a 180 on what body shape is considered attractive and desirable in the past few years. When I was growing up as a teenager the idea was to have no bum at all, be as thin as humanly possible – even if it made you ill – and excessively large breasts that were not naturally possible in conjunction with the former. And of course, a small nose was also a prerequisite. Sometimes it seemed like the smaller the better.
Now as I watch my sister-in-law coming of age she’s talking of gaining weight, doing squats to get a large ass and getting lip filler for her birthday – there’s no mention of a boob job or nose job in sight. The all too common refrain ‘does my bum look big in this?’ has now swiftly become the point – if you look as though you have no ass now you are the ugly one.
At first glance it’s easy to attribute the changes to feminism and a more positive body imagine, and sure, todays ideals are somewhat healthier than the past – women don’t seem to have nearly as much pressure to starve themselves as they did when I was growing up – just take Nicki Minaj’s lyrics in the song Anaconda for example ‘he can tell I ain’t missing no meals’. The size zero craze has fallen away to new trends celebrating curves, large ass, hips and more natural breasts.
This is most definitely something to celebrate, but equally I am still concerned because whilst my generation counted calories and strove for size zero and large breasts this generation is worrying about how many squats will get them an ass like Nicki Minaj. The problem is that this still leads to self loathing and the answer to that is still often surgery. Looking at photos of Nicki Minaj from a few years back it would be hard to argue that she’s gotten the body she has solely by doing squats alone. This is no criticism of her though, if she is happy then power to her, but it’s important to remember that replacing one unrealistic ideal with another, switching out one ideal body type or feature for another isn’t any healthier than the old beauty ideals we just discarded.
It got me thinking – if ideas of what ideal beauty is can change so much so fast, I wonder what the point is of trying to keep up, particularly if it involves invasive, costly and risky surgeries.
I began to wonder where me and my nose now stood.
The idea that my nose is too big is not an idea I came up with independently. As a very young girl I never woke up and suddenly thought one day that my nose was too big – that idea came later when I was exposed to beauty culture. I started to feel angry that I had spent so many years feeling bad about my body based on an idea that some faceless persons in some unknown location had come up with that big noses were ugly and a problem to be ‘fixed’ – for a large sum of course. And even worse – whilst the tides have turned at present and rhinoplasty is now on the decline, I’m all too aware now of how quickly this trend could change again or how I might spend the next decade or too despising another aspect of my body based on the opinions of people I’ll never know or meet. I don’t want to hate my nose or like my nose (or any body part I have really), based on what’s in fashion right now. To do that is to give away all my power. The reality is that there is nothing physically wrong with my nose or the size of it.
There’s something both brave and fuck-you about deciding not to pay £3000 to ‘fix’ something I never decided was wrong in the first place. To never give in and have the surgery I still crave is to keep my power for me, and not to let others dictate whether I am acceptable or not.
I’m not at peace with my nose by any means, but there’s this hole forming in the belief I had before that it was wrong and ugly and in desperate need of fixing. I have spent probably close to 20 years hating my nose, but that’s not to say we can’t learn to live with each other in time, maybe we might even like each other. Maybe me and my big fat awkward nose will be just fine.