I can’t remember the cute button nose I had before I first broke my nose when I was four.
I know from photos it was the dainty kind that scoops up at the end. And I remember running my finger over the top of my nose each morning as a child, as if whilst I slept all signs of a break had disappeared – and my insecurities with it.
I was born with a large helping of sinus problems from both of my parents, and having broken my nose twice before the age of 11, anything to do with that central point on my face was a contentious topic. I had always been told that I would need surgery on my sinuses as soon as I stopped growing. My grandfather would often try to make me feel better when I cried over how ugly it was by saying I inherited his strong Roman nose. But I knew he was only saying that to make me feel better. A Roman nose was powerful and strong – mine was bumpy and crooked.
Life with a large nose didn’t get any easier. I was taunted and teased by every one of my peers at school for having a feature that I already knew myself was less than desirable. Some boys in my class nicknamed me ‘Novis’ as a play on my surname, and I cried myself to sleep many times. I was already a stick thin 5ft 8in 12-year-old that was yet to get her braces. The only curve God had graced me with throughout my teens was on my nose – right in plain sight, where I didn’t want it.
The surgeon held my head in his hands and pressed at my nose with his thumbs before he said: 'You’d look so much prettier without that bumpy nose.'
As a teen, I learned to accept that my nose was simply just the way it is and snap back at my bullies with wit. I learned what kind of lighting made my schnoz look smaller and what angles worked best. And thanks to heroines like Meryl Streep and Barbra Streisand, I finally became happy to be known for being beautiful because of my nose. In some way, I was finally glad that it stood out.
A few months after my 16th birthday I received a phone call to let me know that a cancellation had come up for my impending sinus surgery, and that I’d be going in for a full reconstruction on the inside of my nose for the sinus problems that had plagued me since birth. I was glad that I’d finally (hopefully) be able to breathe.
I’d known the surgeon since I was a little girl, and he’s known for being up there with the best in his field. I trusted him and his judgement, and always felt he had my best interests at heart. He held my head in his hands and pressed at my nose with his thumbs before tilting my head left to right, up and down, and said “you’d look so much prettier without that bumpy nose.” He offered me the option to have a full rhinoplasty at the same time. I knew he only had my best intentions at heart.
But my heart sunk. I suddenly felt exactly how I had not a few months prior. The sadness caused by the confirmation that others definitely saw what I did was quickly overturned with excitement that I’d soon be pretty.
I quickly agreed.
Even though I’m acutely aware I was pressured into surgery, my life has been easier for it.
And I must admit, he did a pretty damn good job. The bruising under my eyes was minimal and my nose looked like it really did belong on my face, nothing like you see on a horror reality programme. I fell in love with my nose, showing it off at any given opportunity. Telling people I had had a nose job was my fun fact and became something I was known for.
Years later in my early twenties, things are slightly different. Do I love my new nose? Certainly. But I feel an immense feeling of anger towards myself for allowing others to tap into my insecurities enough to mould what I categorised as beautiful and ugly. I had succumbed to a permanent form of a ‘makeover’ – one that couldn’t be reversed and came with the possibility of many complications.
There is a feeling of shame within me that I walk around with something that now makes me so proud and confident, but is ‘fake’. Sadness that one of the things I now love about how I look isn’t the ‘real’ me. Although it was only the bump that was taken off, I can’t help but feel embarrassed that I allowed myself to base my beauty and worth on a broken bone, and sadness that I, a child, was made to feel that way.
I hate to admit it, but having septorhinoplasty probably has done me favours, I’ve been able to meet guys with confidence, and don’t feel I have to angle my head a certain way in photos to avoid capturing my nose in its true form – and if I could go back, I would still do it again. Even though I’m acutely aware I was pressured into surgery, my life has been easier for it, as I now fall into a category of what society has decided is pretty. Everybody from my surgeon to my friends acknowledge that I look better with my ‘new nose’, and I know they all say it with kindness.
I just wish I had been strong enough at the time to decide the better option was to embrace something that, later in life, I would realise gave me character.
Mollie Davies is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter at @MollieDavies3
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