When I was toddler in Ecuador, I tried to climb a wall shelving unit full of my dolls—and fell. The entire unit then fell on top of me. My mom tells me my face swelled up for days. I have no memory of the event, but it affected me for much of my life. And it wasn’t just the small scar on my nose that was left behind once the swelling went down.
I can’t remember when I first noticed my nose. I don’t know how old I was or what my initial thoughts about it were. What I do remember is that a few years later, my plastic surgeon uncle, during a short visit to the States for a medical conference, told me that once I was of age, he would fix it. Naturally, this caused me to pay an unusual amount of attention to my nose. I’d stare at it in the mirror from different angles. I’d pinch it and push it up, imagining what it would look if it were thinner, longer, less sloped and without the scar or the bump on the bridge. I became convinced my childhood accident had ruined my nose, and that it was only a matter of time before my uncle would give me a new one.
At 18, I took a family trip back to the mother country, and as promised, my uncle was ready and willing to perform the long anticipated rhinoplasty for an insanely discounted price (about $120). I must be the only person who has turned down an almost-free nose job. And it’s not because I grew out of being so self-conscious. Nope. I still think my nose looks awful in about 80% of photographs. I definitely considered the surgery, but in the end, I deemed it unnecessary. In my entire life, no one had ever cared about my nose as much as I’d had. In fact, most are unaware of the scar until I bring it to their attention, including boys I dated. Plus, the thought of waking up with a different face really freaked me out. And there was no guarantee that I’d not obsess over the new nose or find something else to obsess over. Thanks, but no thanks.
Recently, I suffered a bad fall that left me with a very swollen nose which I feared might be broken. It was probably the first time in my life that I longed to have my nose back to normal. Thankfully, it’s going to be just fine.
Do you have any facial features or body parts that you don’t love? How about scars or birthmarks? Would love to hear about your experiences dealing with them, and your journey toward acceptance.
F.Y.I.: “Des complexes” is a phrase I learned in my very first French class in college. It translates to “hangups” or, for those familiar with psychology, “complexes.”