My father always says, “Don’t ask a question you don’t want the answer to.” I learned to listen to him a few years ago when I mused in my mother’s car: “Do you think I should get a rhinoplasty?” I asked this question for two reasons. One: it’s fun to say rhinoplasty out loud (go on, try it!) Two: I like to fish for compliments. I expected my mother to jump in with reassurances and a suggestion of ice cream. Instead she quietly replied, “Well, I’m not going to tell you not to.” By the time we had left the parking lot my mother had admitted that a nose job would “soften my features.” Distraught, I announced my mother’s confession to my father immediately upon entering the house. Instead of admonishing his wife for her poor taste, my father quickly shouted, “I’ll pay for it!”
A few hours later, I confided in my sister over the phone that I had solemnly reached the decision to have plastic surgery. Never have I heard my sister more excited. If memory serves, her exact reaction was, “I always wondered why you didn’t ask for this before!” In just a few short hours, I had become one of those girls. You know the type. The kind that is so unhappy with their physical appearance that they are willing to break bones to look better. In retrospect, I probably should have just started working out.
Do I regret my decision to have a nose job? The short answer is no. The longer one is “YES” followed by “sometimes” followed by “whatever.”
After I got my braces removed, I cried in my car because my face was still my face. I had a similar reaction after my nose job. I expected a full transformation that would shed my past completely. I wanted friends and loved ones to do a double take, barely recognizing me and then praising my new Aryan features (I’m Jewish if you didn’t already guess.) Instead, no one noticed and a couple of slightly confused acquaintances asked if I had gotten bangs (I have always had bangs! Why does no one remember my bangs!) Had I really gone through weeks of pain and months of unexplainable blurry vision just for a slightly better profile? Was it all a waste?
In some ways, of course it was. I will never look the way I want to look. I will never be able to sit through an entire haircut and not scrutinize my features as my hairdresser trims my angles. I will always search for that one shade of lipgloss that will revolutionize my face. I will constantly stare at my thighs, make crazy promises to myself about eating better and then order a pizza. I am a woman. I am never happy. Plastic surgery wasn’t the cure. It was part of the disease.
Except… I do look better. It’s not glaringly obvious but if you go far enough back in my Facebook photos you might just notice a difference. What was once harsh is now slightly soft. What was once pronounced is now less pronounced. Perhaps what you will notice the most is the change in confidence. Now this growth might have come simply with time or with many hours of therapy and self improvement but the girl who went into that OR scared and pressured is no longer the “woman” who casually jokes about her nose job to strangers and brazenly tries on hats in stores. I will not give my plastic surgeon credit for helping me mature but his work certainly didn’t hurt (except at the time.) In a life filled with insecurities, I have one less thing to worry about.
Perhaps the strangest part of having undergone plastic surgery at the ripe age of 21 is joining the ranks of a group of women I am not proud to be a part of. No one looks at a botched face job and thinks “that lady really has it together.” Instead you silently judge her vanity and her doctor. I often hear girls remarking about their distaste for nose jobs unaware that I am a survivor among them. When I loudly remark, “I had a nose job” they quickly change their tune and commend me for having one that “looks so natural” (i.e. still pretty big). I never thought that I would be the type of girl that got a nose job. But I also never thought that I would be the type of girl who would move across the country or spend the day naked at a Korean Day Spa. The world is full of surprises. Sometimes the only way to access them is to ask questions you might not want to hear the answer to. For example, should I get my boobs done? That was rhetorical! No one answer that. My body can’t handle any more abuse.