Written for www.refinery29.uk
I can still remember to this day standing outside my GCSE graphics class with my head down, trying to pretend I hadn’t seen a group of girls making fun of me. To be precise, they weren’t making fun of me – it was my nose, which just so happened to be attached to me.
My nose was larger than the average teenage girl's. It was large with a big bump on top for good measure. I inherited this from both my mother and father. I always wondered why two people with large noses thought reproducing would be a good idea but it happened and I was the end product. A petite 15-year-old with crippling insecurities, attempting to hide them with a wicked sense of fashion.
As I looked down at my Topshop pumps, I knew I’d had enough. I was never going to embrace my nose and didn’t want to embrace it. It was ruining my self-confidence and wasn’t allowing me to be the person I wanted to be – a girl who kisses boys without feeling like all they can see is a giant nose sitting on a pair of shoulders.
I walked home from school that afternoon, covering my nose the whole way home so boys from the year above wouldn’t notice the thing I thought was getting in the way of an actually alright face. I walked into my mum’s bedroom in tears. "I want a nose job," I said. My mum had had a rhinoplasty procedure two years prior and to my surprise, she said okay.
Fast-forward a year to the summer of 2010 and I was in a private clinic about to undergo a one-hour procedure which would change my face forever. I was petrified but knew I wouldn’t be happy until it was done. As I was wheeled into surgery, I clung onto my childhood teddy bear, dreaming of life with my new nose.
Two weeks after surgery, I lay down as my surgeon removed the cast, closing my left eye to see a perfectly straight ridge out of the corner of my right eye. I stood up, looked in the mirror and for the first time I felt there was no longer something (I deemed) unattractive about myself.
"Sorry, what? You’ve had a nose job?" I love to tell people this, it’s basically my party trick. Eight years later and it still comes as a shock to people that I’ve had cosmetic surgery. The real question here is: eight years later, am I happy? The honest answer is yes and no.
Hoping my insecurities would vanish at the touch of a shaven nasal bone was too good to be true. Dr. Jason Taylor, consultant psychiatrist at Priory Hospital, Chelmsford, told me: "Ultimately many people feel better at least for a short period following cosmetic surgery but for most people it is unlikely to produce lasting changes in self-esteem."
With a brand new nose, it took me two years to actually gather the confidence to talk to people. Despite being happy overall with my looks, my intense shyness was probably the reason I let bullies override me.
Yes I am happy because I am an attractive woman. No I am not happy because I was an attractive woman anyway, large nose or not. The thing about prominent features is owning them. You don’t see Lady Gaga walking around covering her face – unless it’s with a slab of meat. She owns her bump.
And I wish I could have owned mine.
As the body positive movement rises, we are learning to be more comfortable in our bodies – and that includes our noses.
Most recently, a campaign to get women to love their noses sparked worldwide attention. #SideProfileSelfie, curated by journalist Radhika Sanghani saw women (and men) sharing pictures of their side profile online, breaking the "beauty taboo".
According to statistics, 2,197 people in the UK underwent a rhinoplasty last year. That’s half as many as in 2010, when 4,207 noses met the knife.
With (some) thanks to social media, we are starting to accept and celebrate who we are. Your nose might not be perfect – but what is the definition of perfect? Cosmetic surgery is not the answer to insecurities, it takes time and a heck load of self-love. No, I don’t regret having the surgery but would I have learned to embrace my nose with time? Possibly.