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Is Beauty Only Skin Deep? I Had Rhinoplasty Before High School…
April 23rd, 2010 by Liza Wiemer

Beauty is not only skin-deep. We’ve all heard it, and many believe it.  Some, however, are so focused on the body that they’ll do anything to alter their appearance.

My eighth grade photo.

It’s what drives many to cosmetic surgeons.

So, I confess.  The summer between eighth grade and high school I had a nose job!  Yes, it’s true.  I didn’t like my nose.

I despised what I saw in the mirror.  I didn’t see my beautiful brown eyes, the flawless olive skin (which is huge at any age), or my big, bright smile.   It was the NOSE!  There was a huge lump in the middle – but it wasn’t all genetics.  I was a certified klutz and broke it seven times.  Yup, you read that correctly – 7x!

Ice skating and bicycling were my two most dangerous sports.  (Actually, they were my only athletic activities – except gym class, which I dreaded!) Once, I decided to see what it would be like to close my eyes while riding my bike down a hilly street.  I know, it wasn’t the brightest idea I ever had, but hey, I was eight years old.  I ended up smashing into a tree.  I also flew off my bike several times, ‘cause as a lefty I had a tendency to grab my left hand break, which stopped the front tire.  This didn’t stop me from riding my bike, though.  I had a tendency to pedal my ten-speed without holding onto the handlebars.  Once, riding without hands, I hit a patch of gravel and ended up flying into a ditch.  I left my bike and walked to a friend’s home and by the time I got to her house the entire block was swarming with police.  Someone had seen me walking and thought I had been beaten up.  At our local outdoor neighborhood ice-skating rink, it didn’t take much before I’d end up flat on my face.

My septum was so deviated that I could barely breathe.  Sometimes I’d wake up gasping and coughing to catch my breath because my throat was as dry as burnt toast and constricted like someone was choking me.  Allergies didn’t help.

My high school graduation photo.

So, my parents found a plastic surgeon who would repair my nose.  Because of the damage it wasn’t such an easy surgery.  It took much longer than expected and for about a half-hour, I was semi-conscious and I could feel what was happening too.  There had been a reason, something about the amount of numbing medication… It’s hazy now.

During recovery I spent a lot of time with a bag of frozen peas on my face to reduce the swelling and bruising.  It helped.  I’m certain I was on pain meds, but I have no recollection of what I took, ‘cause I slept a lot.

I love my nose, mostly because breathing is a necessity of life.  No one has ever walked up to me and said, “Wow, you’ve got a perfect nose.”  It just fits my face and that’s the way it should be.  Breathing is important – duh, but having the rhinoplasty also impacted my self-esteem.  I stopped focusing on my nose every time I looked in the mirror and the difference wasn’t so dramatic that others noticed.  Perhaps having the surgery over the summer made a difference.

I’m no super model and I certainly don’t think I’m a beauty.  I’ve got a tummy that sticks out and even when I weighed a mere 92 lbs people would ask when the baby was due.  (GAH! Never ask a woman that!)  But I do appreciate the fact that I’m imperfectly perfect – flaws and all – doing everything I can to utilize my talents to make a difference.

The following story, in my opinion, shows the essence of true beauty.  Over winter break I walked into a hip and trendy store to buy a pair of UGG boots.  I was the only customer.  A gorgeous blond young woman eventually came up to me after finishing her conversation with a co-worker.  Within two seconds she had weighed and measured me – figuratively – and I guess I didn’t pass with my paint stained top and jean skirt.  “Do you have this in a size six in black?” I asked, pointing to a pair of boots.

“No,” she replied curtly.

“How about these?” I asked, pointing to a different pair.

“No,” she said again.

“Will you be getting a shipment in?”

“No.”

“Okay,” I said.  “Is there any other place that might sell them?”

“Not around here,” she replied with her attitude.

I walked out truly disappointed, but mostly because this absolutely stunning YA was so incredibly unpleasant to be around that she actually was UGLY!

A few weeks later, I still really wanted to buy the boots.  This time, I called the store before venturing in.  A man answered and I inquired about their stock.  Sure enough, they had several UGG styles in my size and color selections.  I was excited, but dreaded the idea of facing that girl again.  So I listened to my gut and asked if he owned the store.  He said that his family did.  I boldly decided to share my experience with the man, describing what happened and exactly what the girl looked like.  “She’s gorgeous,” I said.  “Thin with blond, curly, long hair.”

“I know who you’re talking about,” he said.

“I hope she’s not family?”

“No, and we’ve had to speak with her before about her attitude.  I’m really glad you told me about this.”

Within a half hour I was paying for the new pair of UGG boots that were happily on my toasty warm feet.

“You know,” I said to the pleasant, handsome young man behind the counter – the one with whom I had spoken to on the phone and the one who went out of his way to help me – “it doesn’t matter how beautiful you are on the outside, if you’re ugly on the inside.  Then, the way you look hardly matters.”

“You’re absolutely right,” he said.  “I hope that message will sink in.”

I wonder how long it took the beautiful blond to find another job?  I hope she learned a valuable lesson.

I may have a perfect nose – but what’s most important is who I am as a person.  Kind words and generous actions have tremendous meaning.  I hope to be judged by those things.  You don’t have to go under the knife or be stick-thin to be beautiful.  If you judge people by appearance alone, then you’re missing the very best of what a human being can be.   Appearances can never truly make a person happy.  Ask anyone who wants meaning and love in his life what the most important values he seeks in another person and I’d bet that looks don’t make the top three.  Why?  Because looks are not a personality trait.  So give it a try.  Ask someone to write down a list of five values he seeks in another person and see if looks are one of the top three.  I’d really like to know.

Oh, and you might be wondering if I ever broke my nose again.  Yup, four weeks after the surgery I was riding my bike, not paying attention, and I flew off my handlebars and broke my nose.  The plastic surgeon reset it carefully and I healed completely.  You might be wondering if I still ride a bike…  Well, I’m not telling, but I’ll give you a hint:  My nose is perfectly intact!


3 Responses  
Melissa writes:
April 27th, 2010 at 9:14 pm

I think what really matters is both your attitude (as you say) and confidence. Sure, everyone struggles with self-esteem issues at some point, but I’ve found throughout my life that when I feel happy and confident in what I’m doing in my life, then I look and feel more attractive than I do at other times.

Lisa Gail Green writes:
April 29th, 2010 at 2:33 pm

What a great story. I must admit that over my life I’ve learned that when I like a person on the inside his/her outside starts to look more attractive and that when I find a person is, well, not nice, his/her appearance tends to become uglier.

Gail Greenwood (Sydney) writes:
May 3rd, 2010 at 1:06 am

Hey Liza I loved this story. The number of times I walk out of a dress shop because the shop assistants attitudes were less than desirable is beyond count, I have always had a bit of an issue with confidence and it doesn’t take much to upset that confidence.
Thank goodness you never took up riding a Motor Cycle. I think you are beautiful inside & out.
My husband (very early on in our relationship) started making comments about the size of my nose. No one had ever made a comment about it before or since. I am now very self conscious about the size of it. He thought he was being funny. I can’t say that I was amused in anyway. It made me consider surgery. But no, I have managed to muscle through & have accepted myself the way I am, big nose & all. ( It seems to function correctly, breathing wise.)

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