Funny thing is — I don’t have to see your nose or even know who you are to probably be accurate in that guess. Odds are, you don’t. Our noses are this weird thing in the center of our faces that help us taste our food and amplify the sounds we hear and yet, quite a few people don’t like the version sitting on their face.
I’m one of those people.
Again, if I were a betting woman, I’d say right now you’re thinking, “What? Your nose!? Why? There is nothing wrong with your nose!” But if I were to say the same about your nose, you’d disagree and be able to immediately pinpoint all of its perceived wrongs.
I don’t recall a time in my life, ever, that I was consciously aware of my nose’s existence and didn’t hate it. You see, I share my rather distinct nose with other members in my family and extended family. And in the family, it has always been deemed an “unfortunate” nose. Wistful words about rhinoplasty around the house were not uncommon and it didn’t take long for me to join in the lament.
My negative nose self-talk really didn’t improve based on my school experience either. In addition to my “unfortunate” nose, I had rather prominent dark hair on my arms and legs. And since I was not allowed to shave my legs until 6th grade, school bullies had taken to calling me “Woolly Mammoth”. One particular bully, Bryce, decided to up the torment when I was in 5th grade. He proclaimed that my nose was so pointed, it looked more like a beak than a nose and decided my new nickname should be “Woody Woodpecker.” On days that Bryce and his friends were feeling particularly vindictive, they called me “Wooly Woody.” That still stings a bit if I’m being honest.
With time, I shaved my legs (and arms — yes arms!) and the Woolly torments eventually died down. But the Woody ones never really did. In fact, the day I graduated high school, I recall Bryce slinging his arm around my shoulder and saying something to the effect of, “Well, we made it Woody.”
Needless to say, I became very self-conscious about the point and sharpness of my nose. I’ve never liked it. I’ve always said I would “fix it” as soon as I had the money. I was adamant on this point.
Until… I had my daughter.
After Holland was born, I took a reevaluation of my negative self-talk generally. I started to worry how it might influence her. I of course, want her to be happy and healthy, but I don’t want her growing up with a mother who is constantly trying to lose 10 pounds or thinks that her thighs look terrible in shorts. I made a conscious decision early in her life, that in order to encourage her to love her own body, I must love mine. That took work and yes, some days I eat a whole pizza and start to doubt my own self-love. But for the most part, I’m happy with my body knowing that it has served me well and that I’m mostly, good to it.
But making peace with my nose has proven to be a much harder task. I often wonder how I will feel if my daughter grows up to have my nose. Will I think it is unbecoming on her as well? Surely not. Like everything about her, I’m sure I’ll think that it is beautiful and amazing. So why then do I have a hard time accepting it being in the middle of my own face?
But if my child, in her early years of life, hears my own negative-nose talk, I’m afraid that she too is likely to learn by example that her nose is ugly. It breaks my heart that she might one day be as hard on herself about her nose as I have been, and continue to be about my own, on a daily basis.
That’s why, last Friday afternoon, I got my nose pierced.
When I was a teenager, I got my naval pierced. Afterwards, I started making plans for tattoos and other piercings I would get once I was grown up and could decide for myself. One day, I said aloud to someone that I loved (and who loved me), that I would get my nose pierced. That person, full of doubt and hate for their own nose, wasted no time in telling me that was a bad idea. They said, “Kate, you don’t put fancy treatments on an ugly window. It just draws attention where it shouldn’t be.”
That person loved and continues to love me deeply. But they were blinded by the very nose on their face and likely generations of people telling them that this nose is just not good enough. Regardless, their words have stuck with me. I think about them every time someone catches a photo of me in profile — something I try to always avoid. I think about them when I put my makeup on each morning. I think of them each time I get a zit on or around my nose. “You don’t put fancy treatments on an ugly window.”
Maybe we should though.
Maybe, we can dress that window up enough that we’ll look at it more often. And maybe, instead of avoiding it, all the attention put on it will slowly turn our disdain for that window into acceptance of it. And maybe with time, that acceptance will become admiration. And perhaps, if we are truly lucky, admiration will blossom into adoration. Maybe. Just maybe.
I’ve spent 32 years of my life locked into a pattern of avoidance and disdain towards the very nose on my face.
For future kids or grandchildren who might also share this nose one day.
The time has come for me to break the cycle. To break up with the self-hate.
I’m not there yet. Not even close. I still cringe at photos of me in complete profile and I find myself occasionally looking up plastic surgeons in my area.
But each time this tiny jewel catches the light and draws in my eye, I see my nose a little more clearly. And I have high hopes that one day, I’ll be able to admire the window for itself. With or without the fabulous drapes.