They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but if you were unlucky enough to focus your gaze on my nose you’d struggle to find a single redeeming feature in it.
I’ve got nostrils the size of caves, misshapen, as though they were formed through some haphazard geological process like igneous rock formation. A bridge that is lopsided, making one side of my nose short and the other protruding. When I smile broadly, the nasal asymmetry is accentuated so much you’d think my parents’ genes had expressed independently at each half of my face. You get the picture.
It’s quite tragic really. I’ve got a face that’s like a perfectly written story without the Hollywood ending, as though the writer simply lost interest in the final act. I’ve been told by past boyfriends I’ve got nice lips and emerald green puppy-dog eyes, and my mother never tires of pointing out my perfect dimples when I smile. All these are feathers in my cap. But, to me, they’re scuppered by an unfortunate hooter.
I now consider myself somewhat of an expert at spotting nasal imperfections, after spending time researching them online. Walking down my local high street, it’s the first thing I notice about people passing by me.
Lady in the pink dress. ‘Dorsal hump’. Guy in the navy blue sweatshirt. ‘Deviated septum’. Old lady in the red frock. ‘Collapsed alar base’. My fixation with noses is all-pervasive. I used to draw them all day at school, pencilling noses in my jotter when I was supposed to be doing calculations and verbal reasoning exercises.
I often imagine what the perfect nose would look like and compare it to the image staring back at me. Long, slender with teeny nostrils and perfect symmetry. I tell myself if I had that nose, I’d be elevated from Medusa to a goddess in one fell swoop.
I’m walking towards a new local café to meet my boyfriend Devin. When we first started dating, I thought he might have had some hidden deformity that made him think he was on equal footing with me. His smile becomes infectious when he talks about his passion for leaving his nine-to-five job to become an investor. It’s a quest neither of us have any training for, but we’re adamant we can make it a success by working together.
I’ve been upfront with Devin about my insecurities when my paranoia kicked in. He insisted he had no problem whatsoever with my nose. When we talk we get completely lost in conversation, enamoured with each other’s hopes for the future. It’s about the only time I forget about my nose and focus on the world around me. But I’m scared he’ll leave me for someone else, for someone with a better nose.
Devin and I are in the queue at the café chattering away. When our turn arrives, I have a first glance at the cashier. I notice her near-perfect slender nose with teeny nostrils, the same nose I dream of having. At first she is smiling at me, but then becomes fixated on Devin. Then she starts gawking at me.
“I didn’t know there was a local women’s rugby club,” she says with a smug look on her face.
“No there isn’t… I… I don’t know what you…”
Before I finish my sentence, I realize what she’s trying to tell me. Devin looks at her with puzzlement and grabs me before I implode.
I’m seething as we leave the cafe in a huff.
Back at my apartment in my living room, I’m still venting.
“What a stuck-up, precious bitch,” I say with unbridled anger.
Devin tries to placate me and calm me down.
“Beccs, listen. I think it’s cute and endearing. Who cares what some random bint thinks of you?” His knee-jerk caveman response is designed to quell my anger, but somehow irks me further.
“That’s it!” I say, signalling an impending ultimatum, “I’m getting a nose job! Face it, Dev. Your girlfriend’s nose looks like it came out of a rugby tackle. I’m that girl who other women look at to make themselves feel better.”
He can tell I’m still reeling from that girl’s comments and is in damage-control mode.
“Beccs, please. You’re not your nose. Or your eyes or your lips. You’re this sweet lady I met.” I can hear the sincerity in his voice, but I’m not swayed yet.
“Oh yeah, where was your lofty defence of me before when that lass wrecked me?”
He’s getting fidgety.
“I didn’t want to say this in the cafe, but that girl is my ex.” He shows me photographic evidence of them together on his phone.
I’m shocked and conflicted. I don’t know why, but I feel the need to leave the room.
So I’m sat here in my bathroom with my old ‘friend’ Mr Mirror, staring point-blank at the nose nature gave me. I have the power to change it permanently and am damn close to exercising that power. But my anger is subsiding now and I’m seeing that girl’s comments as childish and churlish. I’m starting to entertain the thought that this strange obsession of mine is childish and out-dated too. It’s the legacy of puerile adolescent banter that cannot be allowed to seep into mature womanhood.
I’m having flashbacks to old boyfriends I dated, some the hottest guys in our school. You’d think these memories would be uplifting and make me look past my imperfections, yet somehow they leave me feeling hollow and blank.
Then I remember this catwalk I did years ago for charity. I was all dolled-up and performed in front of hundreds of adoring onlookers, both family and important delegates. I got a standing ovation.
In that moment, I felt divine. I didn’t need a boyfriend or a nose job to feel that way and I don’t need them now.
I can feel like a goddess all on my own.
Ali Raza writes from Newcastle in England. Ali has written flash fiction for Everyday Fiction and has also been published in many health and NHS journals such as Health Service Journal. Ali enjoys a bowl of porridge and blueberries with his morning read.