“It’s not going to make you any prettier” — that’s what my mom told me when I wanted a nose job in high school. She had a point; a nose job wasn’t going to transform my life or make me significantly more attractive to other people. My dad, on the other hand, was into it from the beginning. His opinion was the biggest factor in my decision to finally have surgery after five years of flip-flopping.
When I first brought up wanting to have rhinoplasty at around 15, my dad asked me to research doctors. I didn’t do it at the time, fearing both my mom’s reaction and getting even the tiniest bit closer to actually going through with it. I wanted the surgery, but I was scared of the pain, the risk, and whether I would regret it down the road.
Still, my dad was supportive. “I would do it if I was your age,” he told me later on. My nose was a slightly scaled-down version of my dad’s, so he understood the plight of my oversize schnoz. Lots of my Persian extended family members have had plastic surgery, which is fairly normal in Persian culture. In Iran, at least among my family, getting a nose job is as common as getting braces is in the U.S.
Any and every comment about my nose stuck with me years later. A friend’s mother once referred to it as “exotic,” and my younger sister, during an adolescent bathroom squabble, told me “I hope I never end up with your nose.” Neither of my sisters inherited our dad’s nose, and I always felt less pretty because of it. I had the kind of nose that people say “gives you character,” which felt like another way of saying “your nose is big, but not that bad.”
As a teenager, I understood my mom’s desire to dismiss what easily could have been ordinary insecurity and self-absorption. And even though I waffled, the reminder was there every time I cringed at the mirror or at a photo of myself: when it came down to it, I wanted a nose job. I brought it up more and more often as I got older, until the point we couldn’t get through a family gathering without discussing the ‘meatball,’ as my dad called it, at the tip of my nose.
By the time I made up my mind, just before my twenty-first birthday, I was sick of hearing myself talk about it. My family probably wanted to me to get the surgery just so I would shut up already. My older sister was the clincher. I asked her, “If you were me, would you get the surgery?” She said she would, and the look she gave me when she hesitated before answering told me she was being honest.
Once I found a doctor I liked, my older sister anonymously posted his name on a local online forum, asking if anyone had experience with or work done by him (it’s hard to find reviews of plastic surgeons without resorting to this type of thing). She also polled her friends on various New York plastic surgeons via group chat. When the crowdsourced reviews came back positive, I booked a surgery date.
My dad was there via speakerphone when I went for my final pre-surgery appointment. As the doctor and I had discussed, I wanted the most natural-looking result possible, despite my dad’s request that I reconsider additional incisions in the creases of my nostrils to make my nose narrower. “A perfect nose further beautifies you,” my dad told me in an email, “you should also ask your sister.” My response was a resounding ‘No.’ The width of my nose wasn’t the part that bothered me, and I didn’t want to look like the kind of perfection-obsessed plastic surgery patient I’d seen on Bravo reality shows.
Leading up to the day of surgery, my family listened to daily anxious rants—How was I going to look? How much pain would I be in? Did the doctor have the same vision as I did? Not knowing exactly how I was going to look afterwards (not to mention waiting weeks, or even months, with the residual swelling, to see the final results) was one of the hardest parts of the entire process.