Owning My Beauty: Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love My Nose (Sort Of)

Syndicated

Own Your Beauty is a groundbreaking, year-long movement bringing women together to change the conversation about what beauty means. Our mission: to encourage and remind grown women that it is never too late to learn to love one's self and influence the lives of those around us - our mothers, friends, children, neighbors. We can shift our minds and hearts and change the path we follow in the pursuit of authentic beauty.

A couple of years ago, Ashlee Simpson got a nose job. It’s not the sort of thing that I pay attention to, usually –- the rate of cosmetic surgical alteration undergone by celebrities major and minor is far beyond anything that I could or would want to keep track of -- but for some reason, Ashlee Simpson’s nose job really bothered me. I ranted a bit about how fashion magazines were treating the story -- Marie Claire, for one, took Ms. Simpson to task for altering her nose –- and said some things about hypocrisy and the social construction of beauty. And then I asked myself, so? What of that? Why does this bother me, really? Why do I care?

Well, I said, “I do care about asking to what extent beauty is socially constructed and figuring out how to shield my daughter from the more pernicious aspects of that social construction.” And then I said, “but I’m not going to do that math here. What I need to do here is figure out why and how such ideas about beauty matter to me. Figure out why that Ashlee Simpson story hit me in the gut.”

Because it did.

I have always hated my nose. In sixth grade, some ass named Donald nicknamed me Big Nose and it stuck. That nickname had run its course by the time I entered seventh grade, but still, that year of rhino-mockery stayed with me. For years I did everything that I could to avoid being seen in profile: my hands fluttered constantly near my face, and I was ever pulling my hair down over my cheeks as a veil.

Her Bad Mother Catherine Connors

I hated how I looked. Hated it. I would have sold my soul, in some painful, angst-ridden moments, to change my nose. To my young, insecure mind, if my nose were smaller, everything would fall into place. My face would be a face, not just landscape surrounding a nose. My face would be a face. Maybe, it would be pretty.

As I got older, I relaxed a little about my nose. Sometimes, when I was feeling dramatic and confident and having a Diana Vreeland moment, I even liked it. But mostly not. Mostly, I thought, I’m smart and funny and maybe sort of pretty, or at least, I might be sorta pretty, if it weren’t for the nose...

And then I’d beat myself up a little for obsessing about my nose. Because, you know, cool girls don’t do that. Cool girls don’t care. Cool girls are proud to be all jolie laide yearn to emulate Charlotte Gainsbourg, take to heart Marcel Proust’s dictum that pretty women should be left to men without imagination.

Cool girls don’t care about tiny little cheerleader noses. Cool girls don’t care about looking pretty. It’s not cool, it’s not progressive, it’s not bad-ass to care about looking pretty.

But I did. I cared.

I get why Ashlee Simpson cared.

But I wish that she didn’t care. I really, really wish that I hadn’t cared. That I wouldn’t now, or ever, care. And I wish, more than anything, that my daughter will never. Care about her looks, her face, her nose.

I wish this more than anything. That she not be Ashlee Simpson (on so many levels, but for now, let’s focus on this one.) And that, in this singular respect, she not be like me. This is my wish for her: that she not care.

I have two conflicting dreams for my daughter. In one, she inherits most of her looks from her father, who is smashing handsome with a fine straight nose and who is blessed, along with rest of his family, with some serious Dorian Gray reverse-aging genes. In this dream, she never has to give her looks a second thought. In this dream, she never wonders whether or not she is pretty because she is never plagued by the concern that she is ugly. She will be blessed with the luxury of having no need of concern over her looks. She will not have reason to care.

In the other dream – the more powerful dream –- she inherits my looks, the good and the bad. In this dream, she has my eyes (as she already does) and my nose and my smile and they become her own, completely her own, beautifully her own. And she loves her looks. In this dream, she recognizes, early and for always, that she has a beautiful mind and a beautiful heart and a beautiful character and a beautiful soul, and that this beauty radiates from beautiful eyes set within a masterpiece of a face. Her face, her beautiful, unique jolie jolie face. She will care –- but she will care well. She will care for herself, her self.

In this dream, it won’t matter what the Ashlee Simpsons of the world do or do not do about their magazine-cover faces. Because in this dream, speaking about real beauty will mean speaking in redundancies. She’ll be perfectly content, perfectly happy, to be real, beautifully real.

This is my wish for her, my dream. I’ll do everything in my power to make it real.

I’ll begin by loving my own beauty.

Catherine Connors blogs at Her Bad Mother and Their Bad Mother and The Bad Moms Club, and everywhere in between.


This blogger is also featured on EndlessBeauty.com, a website focused on a fresh look at beauty, from skin to hair to makeup, plus celeb style, fashion, and fitness.

COMMENTS

In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.

Menu