Saturday, September 24, 2011

That awkward moment when I almost got a nose job

Where I'm from, that is, the Philippines, I have what is considered a common face. My brown skin (which looks bleached out in the photos -- blame the webcam), soft cheeks, dark eyes, heavy brows, and notoriously round, wide, pudgy nose are the same features that can be seen in the majority of people walking down our congested Manila streets. They aren't ugly features exactly, just common, and to a society that worships Anne Curtis, Georgina Wilson, Marian Rivera and other mestiza beauties, they certainly aren't, as Marian would say, "byu-di-ful!"

To a certain degree, at least as far as beauty goes, white supremacy still runs rampant, especially here in the Philippines -- let's not deny this very apparent fact. Whitening products continue to fly off the shelves. European or American ancestry is a must-have for coolness. Matangos (high-bridged nose) is a great compliment, while pango (snub nosed) is used to tease and insult.

my nose: the center of my face, and my self-hatred.
I've had my fair share of, um, comments, regarding my distinctly Filipino features. I didn't really get bullied in a blatant, violent way, but I've always, as far as I can remember, been able to make out a slight pitying tone in people's voices when they pointed out how dark I'd gotten, or the shape of my nose, like they felt sorry for me and for the way I looked.

Growing up on the "physically unfortunate" side of the beauty spectrum, hearing all these off-handed comments about this and that, and not really matching up to what most people considered beautiful really took a toll on my self-esteem. When I hit puberty, I started using Pond's Whitening everything, and Likas Papaya soap (they don't work, just FYI).

Eventually, I ended up appreciating my brown skin, mostly because of my mother's persistent encouragement, and partly because of morena poster girls Bianca Gonzales and Rissa Mananquil (she visited our school when I was a high school freshman, and gave a talk about confidence and beauty. I asked her for her autograph afterwards, and she told me I had a nice smile). When I got over that issue, my self-hatred then began to focus itself on my other "non-beautiful" feature: my nose.

As you can see, I've got a fairly wide, pudgy nose and a low nose bridge. This godforsaken nose has earned me a fair amount of teasing (not really bullying), sometimes lighthearted, sometimes malicious, but always negatively affecting the way I looked at myself. I hated how the round tip always got in the way when I was reading a book. I hated my "Mickey Mouse " nostrils (named thus for their striking resemblance to the famous rodent's ears). I hated how flat my profile was. I hated how I could never pull off that fierce face a lot of models do when they're looking down their nose to the camera (see photo below).

the look I can never pull off.

I hated my nose so much to a point that sometimes, I'd look at my brothers' noses (both of them were fortunate enough to have inherited our grandpa's and mom's American nose bridge) and end up crying in my bedroom, feeling so incredibly unlucky that I was genetically thisclose to becoming beautiful, but missed it by a hair's breadth. I was so discontent with what I saw in the mirror that I even considered, and I mean seriously considered getting a *dum dum dum* nose job.

I was so serious about this nose job that I told my parents it's what I wanted for my 18th birthday. In hindsight, I don't think either of them were serious about it and they were only humoring me, but back then when I had just asked, they didn't shoot the idea down. In fact, my dad, who is himself a surgeon, started dropping names of his plastic surgeon friends who did wonders with noses. He even brought out one of his medical books and briefly explained to me what they were going to do to my "bulbous tip," as it is called in medical terms. For a time, I thought all systems were go on the rhinoplasty. My parents didn't seem averse to the idea, so I thought all I had to do was wait for my 18th birthday.

As time wore on though, I found myself more and more afraid of how different I would look after the procedure. Sure, I'd have that beautiful nose I'd always wanted, but would I still look like me?

I also found myself thinking of all the possible 18th birthday presents I was passing up on in favor of the nose job --- I could have asked for a trip, or a fancy dinner, or a shopping spree instead.

Obviously, I decided not to have the nose job. I ended up having an amaaazing dinner and a nice hotel slumber party for my 18th instead, and I don't regret it one bit.

Now before you start thinking that this is going to end on a high note with a tearful yet empowered declaration of self-acceptance, let me just state that for the record, I still don't like my nose. This isn't the Tyra Banks show or Glee, or a Dove Real Beauty ad. I'm not going to stand on a pedestal in front of a snub-nosed crowd of supporters and say that I'm going to make it my personal mission to advocate pango beauty.

What I am going to do is be honest and say that I sometimes still don't like my nose, and perhaps I never completely will. But will I let that ruin my life? Will I let my lack of high nose bridge keep me crying in my room? Will I spend a good amount of time and money (time and money I could spend on travelling and adventure) to get my nose surgically altered?

No, no, and no.

Even she had her hang-ups.
As much as I appreciate those girls who've made it their mission to diversify beauty and represent all different kinds of women in the media, I disagree with the insane fixation on the physical aspect. I mean, we all have something about our looks that we hate. Hell, even Audrey Hepburn, THE AUDREY HEPBURN, said that she felt at times that she was odd-looking and not beautiful at all. The thing we should realize is, being good-looking isn't the be-all and end-all of life. We shouldn't forget that there are other powerful qualities we can aspire for: intelligence, charm, wit, grace, kindness, integrity, fearlessness.

Take it from me, the girl who used to cry at night because no one ever told her she was pretty: there are so many other ways to be beautiful. 

1 comment:

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