Nip Tuck

The names have been changed but the story remains the same.

I always thought Chanelle was pretty. She had sparkling, almond -shape eyes and absolutely flawless mahogany skin. But she couldn’t see her own beauty, and she could never accept a compliment graciously. Why? Because Chanelle hated her nose.

“My nose is so ugly. It’s like God stuck a ball of clay with two holes in it on my face,” she’d complain. It didn’t help matters much that she had a mean older sibling who used to tease her, call her KRS-One among other nicknames. No matter how many times I reassured her that she was gorgeous she could never believe me. She could never look in the mirror and see anything but that one feature she hated. She developed a complex and she dreamed of getting a nose job. I know Chanelle wasn’t the only black woman to have those feelings.

According to Anupretta Das’s recent article in the Boston Globe, more and more women of color are getting a little nip/tuck action.

What’s significant are the procedures minorities are choosing. More often than not, they’re electing to surgically narrow the span of their nostrils and perk up their noses or suture their eyelids to create an extra fold. Or they’re sucking out the fat from buttocks and hips that, for their race or ethnicity, are typically plump. It all could lead to one presumption: These women are making themselves look more white – or at least less ethnic. But perhaps not to the extent some suppose.

“People want to keep their ethnic identity,” says Dr. Arthur Shektman, a Wellesley-based plastic surgeon. “They want some change, but they don’t really want a white nose on a black face.” Shektman says not one of his minority patients – they make up about 30 percent of his practice, up from about 5 percent 10 years ago – has said, “I want to look white.” He believes this is evidence that the dominant Caucasian-centered idea of blond, blue-eyed beauty is giving way to multiple “ethnic standards of beauty,” with the likes of Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, and Lucy Liu as poster girls.”

I was just thinking about that recently, when I saw new reggae/R&B group Brick and Lace featured over at Concrete Loop. So many of the new hot pop culture icons are long-haired, pert-nosed, golden-skinned mixed chickadees, that the new average music video starlet/ object of desire looks like Cassie or Rhianna.

Personally, I long for more variety — less girls rocking long, honey-highlighted extensions and wearing next to nothing, and more women who can y’know, sang, who have bodies ranging beyond size 12 and skin darker than a caramel latte.

There’s a pride I feel when I see a woman with bold ethnic features and lush curves being celebrated as beautiful.

I feel it when I see Jennifer Hudson on the cover of so many magazines. Now she’s on Life magazine, and her lusciously full lips are the focus of attention with that pinky bronze gloss. Love it.

Her American Idol counterpart Fantasia is another example of a pop culture icon flying the flag for chocolate sisters everywhere. She may have changed her hairstyle and color, but ‘Tasia isn’t about to go the Lil Kim route and change the most central feature on her face.

And that’s what more and more black women are doing. Das’ article elaborates, “Statistics compiled by the AAFPRS show that in 2005, more than six out of every 10 African-Americans getting cosmetic surgery had nose jobs. Unlike rhinoplasties performed on Caucasians, which may fix a crooked bridge or shave off a hump, doctors say African-American and Asian-American nose reshaping usually leads to narrower nostrils, a higher bridge, and a pointier tip.

I’m not the kind of person who judges anyone based on what they decide to do with their personal appearance. Plastic surgery has helped to make millions of people feel more confident in themselves, but for every amazing, successful, and practically undetectable procedure, there are just as many tragic horror stories, and people who become addicted to the rush of resculpting their features.

For evidence of that, check out the contrasting images in AOL Black Voices feature on famous black women who have gone under the knife.There’s a fine (and shrinking) line between Janet and Latoya Jackson, and Janet needs to check herself before she wrecks herself.

Judging from the facial trajectories of Vivica Fox, Lil Kim, and the Jackson family, it seems almost too easy to wind up with that unnaturally smooth brow and arched eyebrows, looking like you belong on Awful Plastic Surgery.

I lost touch with Chanelle years ago, so I don’t know if she ever came to love herself as she was, or if she had the surgery. I’m pretty sure she went ahead and did it, she seemed pretty intent and unhappy with herself. If she did get herself a nose job, I hope it brought her the inner peace she was seeking.
I never got a chance to give her my two cents, so I’ll do it now.

Lots of the things we want to change about our facial features can be minimized or demphasized with skilled makeup application. Consider taking a makeup application class (MAC offers master classes in select cities), and learning the secrets of contouring to work with your natural features.

Here’s a great video that offers quickie tips on nose contouring and disguising under-eye circles. Despite its current um, transitioning issues; You Tube is still a great resource for makeup lessons and tips.

And if you’re dead set on getting plastic surgery, you need to know that there’s no such thing as a bargain. Don’t go to your friend’s aunt’s unlicensed cosmetologist’s apartment for Botox. That kind of thing happens in Miami all the time, and there are tragedies that result from that kind of penny pinching.

And most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions.

Don’t rush into anything. Make sure you’re 100% sure before you go under the knife, that you’re having the procedure for the right reasons. Often people make irreversible changes only to discover that the distress of having a flat nose, small breasts, or a wrinkle-free face was just the tip of their psychological iceberg.

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Comments

  1. I think plastic surgery is a personal choice. Some people do have a tendency to go over board with it ie the Jackson, Lil Kim,etc. I went under the knife to remove a hump on my nose. I had broken my noise 2x. The first was when I was little my brother smacked me in the face in the back seat of the car with his music box on accident (at least that’s what i tell myself he was 2 at the time). The second time I had a Marsha Bardy moment. My cousin accidentally pelted me in the face with a football when i was 13. I didn’t have anything esle done w/ my nose the doc removed the hump and that was it. My nose still looks the same. I think messing w/ ones face is a very tricky and sensitve thing. Your face is the focal point and is your introduction to the world if you screw that up there’s reall nothing you can do.

    My aunt had a breast lift and tummy tuck after having 3 kids and brest feeding them all she wanted things to move back north.

    One of my best friends is asian and her cousin had the eyelid surgery. The whole family was really shocked at it. She was a beautiful girl before the surgery. The had a hard time understanding why she wanted to do it.

    Bella have you heard about lip reductions. I heard lip reductions are on the rise among black ppl.

  2. damn latoya looks like characiture (sp) of her former self. the before pic looks so much better.

  3. Bella another great post, i just wanted to add that two great books that greatly illustrate contouring and shading are Kevyn Aucoin’s Face Forward and Sam Fine’s Fine Beauty. the before and afters are amazing.

  4. Why does Britney Spears have to be crazy just because she shaved her head? I recently cut off my locs and I’m not having a mental breakdown. I just wanted a change. Maybe she just wanted a change too. But she was pretty messed up anyway with hair or without it.

  5. Oh crap, I made my comment on the wrong post. Sorry! This was a great post too, I’m always fascinated by people’s motivations for plastic surgery; it’s such a drastic, expensive, and physically traumatic step.

  6. Hey Dani!
    I was wondering about that first post, LOL. In general I would agree – shaving one’s head can be a real act of independence and bravery. But I think it’s pretty obvious that Britney’s on the brink. Look, even in that picture I posted in the previous post she looks like she’s about to burst into tears or something. I feel for the girl. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, being famous must SUCK.

    Hey Coffy, I NEED to get me a copy of both of Aucoin’s books! I’ve seen them but never owned them. He was an incredible artist who left this world too soon.

    Umm OK, glad to know someone who had successful plastic surgery procedures done. I’ve heard so many horror stories, but that will happen here in Miami and especially in Trinidad. I’ve never heard of lip reductions, that’s hysterical seeing as lip plumping products are so popular in beauty stores. The grass is always greener…

  7. I think it’s a personal choice. If you want it, do the research and then decide. The problem is too many US plastic surgeons only have 1 template for beauty – caucasion features. So, their inclined to try and fit black folks into that template. Think: Lil Kim. Lil Kim looks absolutely tragic. Goodness. She always had this cute around the way girl look BEFORE she had her plastic surgery.

  8. Hey,

    What work did Viveca get done? I can’t tell. :D Sorry!

  9. Well I am still young, 17 years old to be exact, and i always come to your site but never post..until now because i feel as if i need to. When i was younger i used to be so insecure about myself. I went to a mix elementry school but my bestest friends were white. I used to hate it being younger..because i would think like ‘why my hair is not as long as theres?’ ‘why my cheeks/nose have to be so fat?’ ‘why couldnt i be lighter?’ ‘why couldnt i be born white?’ (Thought this since everytime they would have a sleepover, there houses looked twice as better then mines. Not even that because it seems as if, when i was younger, that white people always stay together, and i didnt know who my dad was). i would just feel so ugly and disgusted of myself even though my family would tell me im the most prettiest thing in the world..but i never felt it..im not sure if i feel it now but i can say that i do accept who i am and will never get plastic surgery to change it. I just love being black now that im older..my nappy roots..the hips and curves that soon came..the way that i have the natural ability to stand up for what i think is right. If you ask me the world just seems crazy and i havent even experienced everything yet. Like white people wants the tan skin, curly hair, the figure… black girls wants the light skin and long str8 hair..atleast thats what i see at my high school..

  10. I knew Vivica got something done…she started looking a little pulled too tight…still a fox, though :) Unfortunately, can’t say the same for Lil’ Kim…this one got issues, but who wouldn’t in that industry?

  11. JUstMYwOrD says:

    Okay, I get the point about black women not loving themselves just the way God made them…but why just focus on us as though we are in a seperate category from others? A lot of women have nose jobs, and plastic surgery…people generally have a problem idolizeing what the media or society says is beautiful. Take Jennifer Anniston and Katie Holmes for example, they had larger noses and got nose jobs too. There’s so many people who fall into that trap, I think it would serve a better purpose to make an issue like this a universal one and not a racial one, because there’s so many girls, black, white and otherwise who are struggling with poor self image.

  12. In and ended up inprison. vanessa hudgens boobs Jenny could stillfeel the thickness of her.

  13. This is a good post. I agree with you and yes, we should see more girls that look like me on TV so that Hollywood and the world knows that Black beauty comes in the range of skin tones from high yellow to deep ebony.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] The Blacker the Berry, an homage to bellas a darker shade of beautiful, who typically don’t get the same level of admiration or appreciation that lighter skinner bellas do. That post was one of the earliest that tackled black beauty issues, which I’ve revisited time and time again in posts like Black Woman, Know That You Are Beautiful, In or Out of Vogue, and Nip Tuck. [...]

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