Growing up there were a lot of things I loathed about myself — like my personality and my out-of-control social anxiety — with the number one thing I took issue with being my nose.
At some point in my childhood, a bump formed, and it grew to the point that it became the nucleus of my profile. I've heard women complaining about little bumps they felt they needed to get fixed, but let me tell you, I had them all beat in that department. I mean, my nose is big, and the bump is pronounced AF.
I grew up in the '80s and '90s, and had minimal people to compare myself to. There weren't many women rocking large noses that were celebrated. The only ones I could see with something similar to mine were witches in movies like the Wizard of Oz. So that made me think that having a bump meant I was ugly AND representative of something terrible, which was a really crappy belief to carry with me most of my life. But that's what happened.
I was appointed "Most likely to get a nose job" in my high school yearbook.
I did my best to hide it — I'd try to lean into my hand with my hair in class so people wouldn't see it — but they did. In fact, they saw it so clearly that I was appointed "Most likely to get a nose job" in my high school yearbook. How the principal or yearbook teachers ever thought that was a good category is beyond me. But what can I say? The last thing on anyone's mind in the '90s was "Hmm, I wonder if bullying is something we should work on?"
What that ridiculous yearbook entry helped confirm for me was that there was something very wrong with my nose, which meant there was something very wrong with me overall. I just kept dreaming about the day I might come into some money, and how I'd get my nose fixed because, as is, I was ugly. And being pretty was all that mattered in life. How could I ever be happy if everyone thought I was ugly?
Present-day me knows being pretty isn't all that matters, but at the same time has learned to appreciate what I've got going on in the looks department. I'm not conventional, but I look how I look: there ain't no changing it. I don't have any other options in this life, save for slicing up my face, which is not a risk I'm willing to take. So it's best to accept me, as is, and stop harassing myself with thoughts that tell me otherwise.
And when I stop comparing myself to mainstream beauty standards long enough to appreciate that I look quite unique, I'm able to let go of a bit of the unrealistic pressure to look a certain way.
I say "a bit" because there are still days I feel like a 17-year-old high schooler being rejected by the entire world (because small-town high school was the entire world back then). And there were other comments over the years that I lean into on occasion that deserve a spot on the "top 10 shittiest things to ruminate on" list, like "You're pretty but you'd be prettier with a nose job." and this gem from the guy who introduced me to my husband: "She's pretty from the neck down."
Now when those comments cloud my mind I switch to thinking of all the bad-ass women out there that aren't mainstream beauties but who bring top-shelf shit to the table. And I acknowledge that if I changed myself in such a drastic way, it would mess with my soul. I don't think I could live with myself, knowing I let the pressure to fit in with a bunch of judgmental jerks get the best of me.
If I changed myself in such a drastic way, it would mess with my soul.
Generally speaking, these days I'm tapped out on caring what people think of my nose. Some days I'm uncomfortable with it because I'm still working on releasing my ridiculous standards for perfection. And to be real, sometimes people stare at my profile, but when I feel that happening I turn and look at them with a smile as pronounced as my nose and say "Hi!" with lots of enthusiasm. They always get flustered, which I find entertaining.
And with all the beautiful and talented women out there who defy conventional beauty standards and make names for themselves in the world, it's easier for me to say, "Pretty sure the bump on my nose isn't going to hold me back from doing what I love to do." Which, BTW, is writing.
I mean, who says my nose can't be beautiful? And why do we have to be everything to everyone? Also: why does everyone have to look so damn perfect all the time?
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They don't. And here's my final thoughts on beauty:
We are not being kind to ourselves when we compare ourselves to the minuscule percentage of human existence that experiences life like a reality TV juggernaut.
Most of us have lives that don't revolve around being photo-shoot ready — our jobs do not require us to look that kind of perfect. Like right now, I'm in ill-fitting pajama pants and have adult acne on my chin. But I'm still doing my thing because looking perfect isn't a requirement for writing.
So let's work on giving ourselves a break. Let's stop spending so much time focusing on all that we aren't, and instead work on acknowledging all that we are. Then we can focus our efforts on accepting the so-called flaws some dicks from high school felt the need to point out.
Because, my friends, there is power in accepting — and in turn embracing — our so-called imperfections. I am proof of that.
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