Have you ever looked in the mirror and imagined what you would look like after plastic surgery? Well I have. I used to put my finger over my nose, and imagine what it could look like if I had a nose job. I grew up as a “cute” kid. I received compliments on what an adorable baby I was. My barometer for my attractiveness was based on my model of beauty which was my mother who was/is a beautiful woman in all traditional sense of the word. She had the perfect nose and beautiful face. As a kid, my house of self-love was built on compliments from external people. And like any house not built on a solid foundation, it was so fragile it would collapse under the wind of anything that did not align with the image of cuteness I had built. One day, such a wind blew in the form of an indirect compliment, “you know” someone said to me, “you would be so much prettier if you had a nose job.” “What’s wrong with my nose?” I thought. Turns out, I didn’t have the conventional cute, straight and pointy nose. In fact, when I looked at it, my nose look more like the witches noses in kids movies. In fact, I remember going to the movie Rapunzel with my little girl and her commenting how much I looked like Mother Gothel. When I was younger, I would look at myself in the mirror and say, “maybe if I could fix my nose, I would be perfect” and would actually imagine how men would stop in the streets to look at me. This makes me chuckle now but back then the struggle was real or at least it felt real. This fascination with my nose, soon lead to my noticing other things that weren’t like other people. Most of the people I knew, didn’t have big puffy hair, and crooked teeth. No wonder rhinoplasty and orthodontics are billion dollar industries. As I started looking to examples to validate my own beauty in the environment around me, I discovered that a vast number of women in the movie industry had nose jobs, facelifts etc. and these were the examples I was using to measure myself. I wondered what those individuals looked like originally and why they felt they had to change everything about themselves. Thinking back, not finding other examples of people who looked like was actually a blessing. If you ask my parents, they would tell you that I’ve always been a non-conformist (defiant is more like it) so I decided to not fix my nose or teeth as a giant F*** you, to anyone who didn’t choose to accept me. I said to myself that my not doing so was my badge of honor that showed I loved myself. But the truth is, I didn’t. I still avoided all profile pictures and didn’t really think that I was attractive enough to be with someone. Really, when I reflect about this now, I realize that it wasn’t about my nose at all. It was about my perceptions that I had to be perfect to be loveable.
So I ran from most relationships and when I did settle, I was deeply insecure. This insecurity, of course, was not only based on my looks but how I perceived my looks compounded the problem. I suffered in silence for many years until I reached a point that I got fed up. I chose not to suffer any more. I said to myself: “well if I won’t accept myself for who I am, why would anyone else?”. Learning to accept my looks was not an easy process. I had to unpack a lot of the misconceptions I had about true beauty. Who decided that a six-pack was attractive? Or that straight noses are the things to have? Long ago, the Botticelli babes were the role models of true beauty and wealth. And why are we all trying to look the same? Now, when I think about all the women I admire, I see diversity in those individuals. I see strength and courage, and beauty that radiates from within. All the women I admire, look different. As I embarked on my journey of loving my looks, I started talking to myself more lovingly and yes, I would say to my nose how much I loved it. How I was thankful that it is so unique and outstanding. And on the days I couldn’t do that, I would tell myself that I was willing to love myself more each day. My willingness opened the door to my achievement.
As I gave myself more love, I realized that the acceptance I was looking from was from myself. I needed to tell myself that it was myself who found me loveable and that I appreciated everything about myself. I stop choosing to allow others to define my worth and started listening to voices that empowered me and viewed me as worthy. One of the most incredible things that I discovered was that the more I accepted myself as I am, the more that was reflected in how others saw me but by then, I just didn’t need their acceptance anymore. I appreciate it and I am super grateful for it, but I don’t need it. In retrospect, I would like to say thank you to the person that made a comment about my nose. Had this person not, perhaps I would not have embarked on the journey of loving all the little aspects of me that I historically rejected because others told me to. Does this mean that I don’t have days when I don’t love my looks, absolutely not! But on those days I hold myself with compassion. Reassure myself that I am worthy of love no matter what, and do something that is nurturing for myself. And to be clear, loving yourself doesn’t mean you don’t change. The issue with changing ourselves is the energy behind the desire for change. Before I wanted to change my nose so that I could be more loveable, now I change my hair because I like how it looks dyed. It is the intention behind the change that matters, not the desire to change.
We are all beautiful and worthy of love. We come in all different shapes and sizes, able and disabled, short, tall, and in all different colors. These differences are what make us truly beautiful. How boring would it be if our gardens were only filled with roses? So go ahead, love all the parts of your body you hide, show them off, allow them to shine and show who you really are.