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.
“Whatâ€™s significant are the procedures minorities are choosing. More often than not, theyâ€™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 theyâ€™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 â€“ or at least less ethnic. But perhaps not to the extent some suppose.
â€œPeople want to keep their ethnic identity,â€ says Dr. Arthur Shektman, a Wellesley-based plastic surgeon. â€œThey want some change, but they donâ€™t really want a white nose on a black face.â€ Shektman says not one of his minority patients â€“ they make up about 30 percent of his practice, up from about 5 percent 10 years ago â€“ has said, â€œI want to look white.â€ He believes this is evidence that the dominant Caucasian-centered idea of blond, blue-eyed beauty is giving way to multiple â€œethnic standards of beauty,â€ 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.