Two years ago, when she was 15, my daughter came to my husband and me separately and asked us this question: ‘What would you say if I wanted to get a nose job?’
Our unified answer? ‘You’re beautiful just the way you are. Why would you want a nose job?’
And, her reply, in typical teenage fashion was, ‘Well, I don’t. I just wanted to see what you’d say.’
Two years passed, and not another word was said about plastic surgery, or in fact any kind of dissatisfaction with her appearance. Always hearing about body image and self-confidence issues, we counted ourselves lucky that our daughter was so confident and happy with who she was. Of course, she spent hours in front of the mirror ‘getting ready’, and she posted hundreds of ‘modelling’ pictures on Facebook of her and her friends. But that seemed pretty normal for a girl her age. Apparently, her question about her nose had been just a test to see how we’d react. Typical teenage stuff.
And then, about six months ago, she walked into our bedroom late at night (teenagers are nocturnal beings, you know) and announced that she wanted to get a nose job. She had done her research, knew the risks, and had even checked out some doctor’s websites. In her words, ‘I need to do this. My nose is the one thing I don’t like about myself. Please don’t say no.’ And, so, after discussion and reflection, we didn’t.
Our decision to say yes to our daughter’s nose job was based on some compelling reasons – not including the fact that at almost 18, she didn’t need our permission in the first place.
- She had obviously thought through her reasons for wanting surgery. She didn’t think changing her nose would change her life. She didn’t think it would make her more popular or more successful. She wasn’t doing it to be a model or to trade on her looks. She was doing it because it was the ONE thing she was self conscious about.
- She was committed to her decision. She was willing to pay for the surgery herself by working and paying us back in instalments. She did the research and understood the risks. She obviously hadn’t made the decision lightly.
- She was mature and confident at her initial consultation appointment. She asked the right questions and listened to the doctor’s advice about what changes were possible and what the risks and side effects were. She took herself to the lab for her pre-op blood tests. As she waited for her operation, she never wavered, or even exhibited nerves – amazing for a kid who suffers from anxiety, and freaks at the sight of needles.
Up until the day of her procedure, I had misgivings. Like so many women, I have always been plagued with body image and self confidence issues. I was so worried I was sending her the wrong message and that she would come back to us in five or ten years with thoughts that we didn’t think she was good enough or pretty enough. I was concerned that fixing her nose was the beginning of an obsession with appearance. I knew for sure that had she asked for a breast augmentation, I would have emphatically said no. Was the nose so different?
But then, sitting with her in the waiting area, and seeing her calm excitement, I realized that this operation was important to her. It was X, it was Y (INSERT).
She barely complained after surgery and strictly adhered to the post-op instructions, managing her dressings, cleaning her nose, taking her meds. And that’s when I understood that our daughter made this decision for herself, and we had merely stood by and assisted. She had taken control of her body, made a considered and independent choice, and in had taken a big step toward adulthood.
The last of which, if I’m honest, I’m not sure I altogether like.