From the time I first trained myself to look at the mirror and see my flaws before my beauty marks, I entered into a self-hating, egotistical relationship with my nose. It's a detestation that Radhika Sanghani, originator of the #sideprofileselfie, and Tyra Banks, who has recently outed herself as an ex cosmetic rhinoplasty patient, are well familiar with.
Feeding the obsession, one put-down at a time.
I was about 10 or 11 when the ritual began. Rushing home from school, I'd stare back at the mirror and scrutinize every unconventional trait I owned. Poring over my evolving pubertal countenance, I would curse my chunky nose and lament every other facial feature that set me apart from the flock, from my chicken pox scars to my naturally deep dimples and librarian spinster-type glasses. I, a voracious reader with decidedly singular, old-school interests, was already different from my peers, but I longed to fit in — even if only on a superficial level.
(And, I know, hating on dimples? Crazy. I hated them so much that they responded on a molecular level and disappeared almost entirely from my right cheek, or at least that's what I tell myself when I want to snap out of a particularly self-deprecating mood.)
From ages 12 to 14, the insecurities grew into a full-blown obsession. Nobody could take a profile shot of me; I'd get furious, steaming inwardly at the thought of there being photographic proof of my pre-surgically altered face. I dreamed of rhinoplasty alongside LASIK eye surgery and, like the image-obsessed, horribly insecure Georgia Nicolson from Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, I'd take it upon myself to self-correct myself as much as possible before then. Vaseline on the eyelashes, Colgate on the zits, and natural home remedies by the dozen.
Because I didn't have a strong enough foundation of self-love towards my face and body, I was never satisfied. Progress could not come soon enough.
If thy right eye offend thee... schedule a doctor's appointment. Or not.
By the time I graduated middle school, I'd already ditched the glasses for contact lenses and had seen my complexion clear slightly. (It's taken me until college to get down to nearly-flawless skin, though I still wrestle with hormonal breakouts.) But my nose, that stupid nose that made me look foreign and witchy when I just wanted to look like Carey Mulligan and Rachel McAdams, stayed on.
Infuriatingly (at the time), my mom was unfailingly supportive of my natural nose, telling me that it was "cute" and "gave my face character." She also never failed to bring up an extended family member's post-surgical transformation from natural beauty to Plain Jane, or Jennifer Grey's career-ending nose job.
Today, when I look back, I thank my mom for encouraging me to love my nose regardless of personal bias and social norms, and for helping me realize that nose surgery, the "easy fix," wasn't always as picturesque as I imagined it to be.
(But, hey, if rhinoplasty worked for you, I'm not judging! #Youdoyou.)
Little welcome as it was, my nose never underwent cosmetic surgery. Rather than hack away at my face, I consciously chose to change my mindset and accept my nose — not as an unwelcome visitor, but as a part of me that, to this day, has defined me positively and uniquely.
I overcame my self-image doubts to embrace my nose. Here's how you, too, can change your "hate" to a "love" (or at least a very strong like)*:
- Ask yourself why you hate this part of you so much. What kind of judgement are you making about yourself? How much of your perceived flaws come from a socially constructed standpoint? What might another person (your mom, your best friend, your S.O.) think about it?
- Bonus: Imagine that a loved one is describing you right now. What would their POSITIVE statements be?
- Instead of focusing on your flaws at the mirror, say a self-love mantra like "I love myself and I love my body" or "My happiness radiates from me." If you're having trouble coming up with one on your own, check out this body-positive list from Greatist.
- Quiet your inner critic. Shut up that nagging voice in the back of your head and do something productive instead.
- Find your body positive role model. Mine is Kate Winslet.
- Don't keep it bottled up inside of you. Have a heart-to-heart with a close friend and see how small an issue they find it to be. (You're the only one who's obsessing!)
- Join an online support group for people with body image issues.
*Applies to any body part you're unfairly ragging on, not just your nose!
Can you take on the challenge?
I can't say my journey to self-acceptance was a quick-fix solution or even a short one. As a matter of fact, I can't even even estimate roughly how long it took me, because I'm still going through it.
However, I can say, with 100% sincerity, that loving your body, face, and soul as it is now is one of the best decisions you'll ever make.
You can love yourself while still striving for better health, both physical and mental, but you can't be happy if you're constantly fixating over your own skin or comparing yourself to others. So, do yourself a favor and choose to love.