A Nose Is A Nose Is A


People went banana-land on social media over Meg Ryan's appearance at the Tony Awards. Too much plastic surgery, what was she thinking? Poor cute Meg. Let's blame the movie industry because there aren't any parts for women when they get older (unless you're Meryl Streep). Or is the bigger issue about body image? Why would anyone get plastic surgery?

I inherited my father's beautiful brown eyes, his sense of humor, love of writing, and passion for baseball.

And his nose. One stinker out of five -- that's not so bad. Unless you're a girl growing up, already on the skinny, un-busty side and self-conscious about your appearance. One day you notice the rest of your body isn't quite catching up to your nose. Uh-oh. You check your reflection in the bathroom mirror, examine your profile from every available angle. You realize, yep, your nose is gigantic. Ginormous. Cyrano-sized. (Okay, it wasn't really that bad.)

In middle school, a few friends called me Captain Hook. They thought it was funny. I'd laugh along with them, go home, crawl into bed, and cry. There are few profile photos of me past middle school. I became adept at snapping my head forward when I saw anyone poised to take a photo.

My poor father. When I'd curse his genes for causing this crisis in my life ("I'll never get a date!"), what was he supposed to say? I'd already complained about the mysteries of genetics that had conspired to deny me my mother's blue eyes, black hair, and Elizabeth Taylor figure. And perfectly normal nose.

Back then, living in a small town in Virginia, there wasn't the option of having a nose job even if my parents could have afforded or considered surgery. But at least in high school I discovered Funny Girl. Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice -- two proboscis-ly challenged, yet prodigiously talented kindred spirits. I wanted to be a musical comedy star, too -- voilà -- I would embrace my nose, practice my singing and dazzle Broadway. I sang, "I'm the Greatest Star" over and over and believed anything was possible.

Skinny girl with a big nose, that's how I always described myself. In college, I met other women who hated their noses. My first year roommate went through her high school yearbook and pointed out the girls who had a choice between a new car and a nose job as graduation presents. (She'd gone to a high school in suburban Baltimore. Where they, as opposed to my small town, had access to plastic surgeons.) "Nose job, nose job, car, nose job, car," she said, tapping various photos.

I never made it as a Broadway star (these days I sing along to the Hamilton CD). Instead I ended up in L.A. writing for TV and film. My father passed away. I got married. Still swiveled my head when anyone took a photo. My husband told me my nose was perfect, but I wasn't convinced. I was working on a TV show and an actress mentioned how she'd gotten a nose job because she had her father's nose and thought it didn't look right on her face.

"I have the same problem," I said. "A man's nose. It looks fine on my brother, but wrong for me."

She told me about her plastic surgeon. I talked it over with my husband, met her wonderful doctor and told him my biggest fear was having a nose job that looked fake. I just wanted a normal nose, that's all.

And that's what he gave me. A regular nose. A nose that fits my face.

Someone asked after I'd had the surgery, "Do you feel pretty now?" I said, "I don't feel ugly. And that's great." For years I'd let my old nose define me -- it had given me grief, stripped me of self-confidence, and now that was gone.

"Suppose I'd done this when I was a teenager," I asked my husband. "Think of the misery I could have spared myself."

"But you wouldn't be who you are," he said. Was he right? On one hand, my father's nose helped me become who I am today. But if I'd had a nose job in high school, I wouldn't have hidden from cameras, avoided my reflection in a mirror. Would I have been more confident? Had different friends, a different life?

My journey into the world of plastic surgery was about ending pain and embarrassment. As for growing older and wrinkles -- I don't care. But I'm not an actress, what I do isn't dependent on how I look. Who am I to judge Meg Ryan or anyone who chooses to have plastic surgery? I can understand people wanting to look younger or to feel prettier.

But as for me, take my picture. A profile shot? Sure, no problem.

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