Pick your own nose

Photo: Taylor Ann Wright

Most people I know have perfect noses, ones that blend into their faces like gentle waves, barely breaking on the shore. Mine juts out like a shark’s fin — not a sight I’d like to see even on a beach, much less on my face.

Curiously, there was not much chatter surrounding my nose when I was in school. Apart from a few scattered references, I was barely teased for it. So it should have been easy to forget how hideous it was, except, I’d see it every morning, staring back at me through the mirror, bulging and contorted, a raging force in the midst of my face. 

One day I opened up to a friend about my desire to have plastic surgery sometime. She brushed off my concerns with a dilemma of her own: her ears. “Your ears?” I asked, bewildered. She pulled back her hair. Her ears were unusually large and did fan out from the sides of her head.

“You’re lucky, you have lovely ears,” she said wistfully. Lucky? Who cares about ears? “At least you can hide them!” I cried, desperate to win this battle of my-flaw-is-greater-than-yours. “How can I hide my nose? It’s not a pimple! I can’t conceal it with concealer.”

She scrutinised my face. “It is kind of crooked. If someone has been observing you, he or she may notice, but other than that, I don’t think you can really tell.” I pictured someone ‘observing’ me, noticing my nose and recoiling in horror. 

Time passed. Despite my prayers, my nose did not magically shrink with age. I did however gain some perspective; it became clear that everyone viewed their flaws with too harsh an eye, according them much more censure than was due. 

Natasha thought her thighs were too fat. I thought she was crazy, especially when she said, “You’re lucky you’re slim!” 

“Lucky? Have you seen my nose?” Apparently, she thought I was crazy as well. 

Perhaps my nose wasn’t as ugly as I thought? Is it possible people might actually overlook this protrusion on my face, and not notice it the minute they saw me?

“Your nose is not great,” my husband said. “But it is not as obvious as you think. Anyway, everything doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, imperfection is more interesting. Your flaws are what make you unique. Why would you want to change them just to be like others?”

In our quest to look like that model in the magazine — tall, slim, with fabulous hair, a perfect face and body — we forget she has had layers of make-up applied to her. Her hair has been done up. Dozens of photographs are taken under flattering lighting, and some selected. Then the blemishes are touched up. The perfection is an illusion, like any Facebook profile picture. 

Sure, my nose isn’t perfect, but it’s not without its advantages. Like a dog, I have a great sense of smell. I can sniff out if my children have eaten the chocolate they claim they haven’t, if they have washed their hands with soap or if they have brushed their teeth.

And if they lie, they know this: mom can smell fear.


(This article was featured in The Hindu, on June 4, 2017)

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