On Not Being Perfect, In Which I Talk About My Nose
“I hate my nose so much. Like, really REALLY much. It’s huge and has a very noticeable bump on it, it’s probably the only thing ruining all of my pictures and the reason why I try not to turn my face profile for people to see. I have never felt pretty. I know this may sound stupid, and it probably is, but I keep wanting for a small, beautiful, narrow nose, but, of course, I can’t help it. The only thing that I could change is my perspective, but then again, nowadays all of the articles on a “love your body” topic are based on weight, not one of them mentions anything about a “problem” like mine, and I’ve been surfing and searching for something that could help me all over your blog, but my search was useless.
Please Gala, can you help me with that? This could literally change my outlook on physical beauty and myself, and be the change I needed for a long time.”
I received this email on Wednesday, from a girl called Sophie in Lithuania. All I can say is, Sophie, you wrote to the right girl! You & I are like two peas in a pod, ’cause you might have noticed that I have a big nose too.
Want to hear something funny? I never knew I had a big nose until someone told me I did! Before that, I just thought it was a nose. I didn’t give it much, if any, thought. It wasn’t until someone felt the need to point it out that I started to look around & notice that not everyone had a nose like mine. In fact, most people’s noses were much smaller. Maybe — horror of horrors — their “normal” noses were cuter than mine!
I can’t lie: I have had my periods of insecurity about my snoot. I have wondered if I should get it “fixed”, googled “nose job before & after”, & pondered if I could really stay shut up inside the house until the swelling & bruising went away.
But then I think about the cosmetic surgery industry, a business which literally profits from our insecurities, & I reconsider. To be clear, I actually have nothing against plastic surgery: I believe our bodies are our own to do with as we please, & it’s all too easy to judge or dismiss anyone who goes under the knife. I do, however, think the whole area is a very slippery slope. There’s a difference between having surgery, & expecting that surgery to change your life or how you feel about yourself. One of these things is not like the others.
Plus, choosing to accept yourself as you are is so much cheaper!
Sophie, if you changed your nose but not your attitude, I’m willing to bet that six months down the track, you’d find something else “imperfect” to fixate on.
No matter who you are, there is always going to be something about you that is not “model-perfect”. Maybe, like us, it’s a nose that demands attention! But perhaps you have a round tummy, or uneven boobs, or ears that stick out. Maybe there’s a part of your body that your average cosmetic surgeon would love to “fix” or “improve”, but would that really add to your quality of life?
Your nose is part of who you are, & I think that with time, you will come to appreciate it. If it helps, you’re not alone! Cleopatra had a big nose too, & she was one of the most devastating beauties in history! Other ladies with sizable snoots include Barbra Streisand, Sarah Jessica Parker, Gisele Bundchen, Penelope Cruz & Sofia Coppola… & they’re all gorgeous, talented, brilliant women. Anyone will tell you that their noses add to their character, not subtract from it.
In the Pensées, Pascal remarks “Cleopatra’s nose, had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed” (180). Ironically, what he means is that, had her nose been smaller, she would have lacked the dominance and strength of character which, in the physiognomy of the seventeenth century (or, indeed, the nineteenth century), a large nose symbolized. (Source)
The idea of what it means to be beautiful is changing all the time. Right now, we’re all expected to fit into this extremely dull cookie-cutter ideal of big eyes, a small nose, long hair, stick-thin legs, huge breasts & plump lips, not to mention white & young. God forbid you show your face in public once you have some expression lines; once you have, as Clayton Cubitt says, “earned your beauty.” What a yawnfest! Whenever I go to Los Angeles, I’m totally freaked out by the masses of women who have the same face!
I have come to the conclusion that being perfect is boring. It’s a yawn, a snore; tedious & tepid & tiresome. It lacks imagination. The pursuit of perfection is essentially an appeal for acceptance. It cries out for validation. Pick me, pick me! Accept me! I look just like you.
The quest for perfection is a way of flying under the radar. It idealises the unexceptional. It is such a dull way to spend your time… & money!
Realistically, there is nothing you can do — with the exception of surgery — that will change your nose. It will always look the way it does today. But you have the power to change your MIND about your nose, & that is the most fantastic thing! You can decide to love your nose, decide to see it as an asset! View it as something different & wonderful. It’s something that separates you from other people. It’s something that makes you look unique.
A big nose can be just as beautiful — if not moreso! — than a small or average-sized one. It’s all in the attitude: in how you carry yourself, whether you hold your head high or try to shrink into the background.
As for me? I have my good days & I have my bad days. On good days, I see my nose as something that is regal, unusual, distinctive. Sometimes I think it makes me look like an eccentric European countess, & I like that. Mostly, I am able to see my nose for what it is: just a part of my face.
My nose might not be what a plastic surgeon would craft for you, but I have slowly come to appreciate it. Most importantly, my nose links me to my family, & to my father, who I love. That’s good enough for me.
A question for you: What about you or your body have you learned to love, & how did you do it? What are you still struggling with? We’d love to know!
Super-love & super-noses,