I grew up in a suburban neighborhood where the majority of the children were white. The years I spent in school, I was always conscious of being an “other.” Not only was I Persian, I had hairy arms, legs, and a mustache. And, the cherry on top? I was blessed with a stereotypical Middle Eastern nose. Though I saved myself some ridicule when it came to my body hair by waxing at way too young of an age, I was unable to do much about my nose. I recall a fellow student calling me “Rose the Nose.” It was a name that stuck, and one that haunted me through my teenage years.
It’s no wonder that I began to develop insecurities and body-image issues. Of course, so many of us have issues around self-perception. This is why the plastic surgery industry is one of the few that has survived through the recession and continues to thrive despite the rising costs of living. It’s true that sex sells, but beauty gets jobs, relationships, and, more often than not, opens doors.
In many Middle Eastern cultures, it’s actually quite common — almost a rite of passage — for young women and men to have their noses done. Most girls receive them as a graduation or birthday gift as soon as they are old enough to safely have plastic surgery. In Iran, it’s even fashionable to wear nose bandages as a sign of status and wealth.
But, though I developed into an intelligent and confident woman in many ways, I still felt unsettled about how my nose looked. The desire to change its shape had not diminished in all those years. So, when I was 24, I finally decided to have the procedure done. I made the decision largely on my own, without the input of most of the people in my life. I didn’t think the artist community and the punk community I was associated with would be supportive, so I decided to do it quietly.
My brother was in his last year of plastic-surgery residency, so it was good timing. I was terrified, but I knew I was in good hands — and the truth is, if my brother wasn’t involved in the procedure, I may not have done it at all.
The results were subtle and beautiful. I have many friends and even family members who don’t have a clue that I had any work done. It’s a true testament to artistry that if a skilled surgeon does plastic surgery properly, the results can be natural, yet still life-changing.
At first, I began to resent how people frivolously resort to plastic surgery for what seemed like all the wrong reasons. It took a maturing of my yoga practice to realize that it is not my place to judge, and that everyone arrives to his or her decision for different reasons — just as I once did. And, if someone is fortunate enough to have an artist as talented as my brother to work on them, then they, too, can experience the peace that comes as the result of their decision.
Truth be told, to this day, very few people outside of my place of work or close friends and family know that I’ve had my nose done. It’s not obvious, and I don’t feel it’s necessary to divulge unless I’m asked. I’m not ashamed of my procedure, and I’m actually quite pleased with the experience as a whole. If I am approached about it, I like to share my knowledge, and I encourage others to have plastic surgery if they are 100% sure that they are doing it for the right reasons. I believe at one time there was a stigma attached to having work done, but these days it’s almost as common as having your hair dyed.
Today, I look at old photographs of myself, and I think that although my nose wasn’t as bad as my mind made it up to be, I’m still glad that I went through with the procedure. I saved myself years of worrying about which angle to pose in photos, how to do my makeup, how to smile, or whether people’s eyes really did go straight to my nose. Today, I’m able to confidently walk through the world.
My decision to have plastic surgery does not define who I am. It allows me to be more fully myself, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world. Today, if someone tells me I’m beautiful, I can confidently respond, “Thank you” — because I know what that person sees is truly viewed through beautiful eyes. Because it is not my nose (or my lips, nor my eyes) that they are seeing, but rather the inner glow that emanates from my peacefulness within.