This month’s Living Out Loud Project theme is “It. Was. Awful!” The idea is tell about something that makes you physically different whether it be a scar or a natural feature.
My nose. Big subject, literally. I hate it. Always have. Well now, that’s not entirely true. I used to have a cute little pug nose. But the summer between 7th and 8th grade, when all the other girls were at home growing breasts, my body decided to grow a nose instead.
Yeah, 8th grade sucked. I left for my 7th grade summer vacation with a cute boy liking me and when I returned he didn’t even look my way. Never found out if it was because I grew a nose, or because my aunt talked me into letting her cut my long dark waves into the new Dorothy Hamill rage – the wedge, or whether it was because I was probably the only 8th grade girl without boobs.
People at school didn’t really make fun of me, at least not to my face. However, the 40 minute bus ride to and from school was torture. I mean a living hell. There was a boy who made it his daily fun to pick (no pun intended) at me and my nose. In retrospect, he was probably trying to divert the attention from himself. After all, adolescence is a survival of the fittest. I’m sure I called him an ugly name or two in retribution, but I never flat out teased him. I couldn’t bear the responsibility of putting anyone else in that kind of pain. I wore my heart on my sleeve, so my friends were bound to have known how much it hurt me. I tried so hard not to cry at his hateful words. I could feel the scarlet burning through my skin, but the tears I saved for my pillow at night. I think the worst was when he named me “cherry picker”. He told everyone that I could hang myself on the tree by the hook of my nose and pick the fruit with both hands. My friends never called me that, but they surely laughed when he did it. Yeah, I guess it was funny. But not when you are the 13 year old girl who just wanted to fit in.
I have three sisters who all inherited my mother’s pretty little perky nose. I told my father that life was not fair that I (being a girl) ended up with his big old ugly nose and I hated it. I will always regret those horrible words I said to him. Like he was able to chose the nose God gave him or me. I never thought about the words hurting him until after they had escaped my mouth and my mother scolded me. My only excuse is that I was an angry teenage girl who had a nose with both a crook and a hook, and at the time, I hated the way I looked. I was ready to pin the blame and humiliation on anyone willing to accept it. The sad thing is that those words only broke both of our hearts.
I have often heard remarks about my appearance in which I knew was in reference to my honker. I’ve been told that I look like Barbara Streisand…do you sing also? (I must add here that I am not a big fan of Barbara Streisand’s music, but I have great respect that even though she has enough money to alter her appearance, she has greater self respect and acceptance to be who she is.) Then I’ve even had the comment, “Oh, I thought you were Jewish”. Like a certain kind of nose makes you Jewish. Who were these people who made such disparaging comments? Sometimes the ones I love lightly tease me, and that I can handle. The absolute most cutting incident came from someone I respected and thought truly cared for me for who I was inside. This person looked me right in the eyes (of course, the nose is stuck between them!) and said, “Susan, I never realized how big your nose is. Really, it is.” Something died inside me at that exact moment. I thought that if someone who loved me could say something so heartless, so callous, and wasn’t looking beyond my appearance and seeing “me” , who could I trust to see and love the “REAL” me…the one behind the NOSE?
So, a few years after that, I did the dirty deed. Yeah, I got a nose job, no not a boob job, a NOSE job. I actually was having surgery on a deviated septum, and decided that while I was under the knife, I might as well come out looking a little better. It is not a tremendous difference. (And I still have difficulty breathing at times.) The hump is gone, and the hook has been lifted. I still don’t have much of a chin and if I did, my nose would appear smaller. I still don’t like my profile, but it looks much better than pre-surgery. Do I regret it? Only occasionally…it’s the guilt thing with my father. I feel that I betrayed him. Appearance wise, I have no regrets there. However, I must say I’ve learned a lot from that nose. I’ve learned how to know who my real friends are and to treasure them. I’ve learned how painful words can be, and to choose them carefully. My nose has given me character, and I like to think that my character didn’t shorten along with my nose. Most importantly, my nose gave me strength…it’s a residual inner strength I’ve earned no matter what nose I sport on my face.
“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.” –Pearl Strachan
This is a photo taken years prior to my surgery. I really don’t have many profile pics of those years…I probably shredded anything taken from an unflattering angle!
I still don’t do profile pics, but this is close, taken seven months ago.