Resolving the Rhinoplasty Question: Should She or Shouldn’t She?

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Hi Whit:

Ever since I can remember I have hated my nose, and ever since I was a teenager I have wanted to get it fixed. The problem is that my fiancé thinks that I will look “like a different person” and will regret it if I get a nose job. He is making me feel guilty about wanting to look better.

The reason I want to get it now is that I want to look good for the wedding and in all the pictures that we will see for the rest of our lives. At this point, we have not fixed a date, but I want to have plenty of time to recover from the procedure.

It’s not that I want a petite nose, it’s just that I just don’t want to have such a big nose that it’s the first thing that people notice about me.

My fiancé says that he loves me just the way I am, and if he fell in love with me the way I look, I shouldn’t want to change it.  Besides, he says that I’ll have a different nose than our kids.

What kind of advice do you have that you think can help me with this problem?

Too Nosey for Me

Dear Too:

My first reaction is that I don’t really see how you’ll regret something you’ve been thinking about “ever since (you] can remember.” What does your fiancé mean when he says you’ll “regret it”?  Has he told you what he thinks you will regret? Has he voiced any other reasons for your not getting the procedure done besides you’ll “have a different nose from [your] kids”? These sound like flimsy objections that might be hiding a different sentiment.

Let’s examine the last objection first: That you will have a different nose from your kids.  Your fiancé might benefit from a mini-lesson on genetics, the first rule of which is don’t think you can predict genetic inheritance. Have you ever seen children who look nothing like their parents, or maybe a daughter who is a beauty when her father is a beast? That possibility reminds me of a story (possibly apocryphal) that went around about what kind of gorgeous genius would result from the union of Marilyn Monroe and Albert Einstein. According to legend, Einstein is supposed to have mused, “What if she (or he, to add to the genetic uncertainty) had my looks and your brains?”  Let’s hope this comical anecdote dispatches that argument in a hurry.

According to your fiancé, you shouldn’t want to change your looks because he fell in love with you “just the way you are” and so you shouldn’t want to change them. Will you have to clear any changes in hairstyle or color? What if you want to get braces to straighten your teeth? How about gaining or losing weight? The main and pressing question comes down to, “Who is in charge of how you look?” and the natural offshoot of that is, “Who is in charge of what you do, say, or think?”

While your fiancé might think that he is just being open-minded and accepting of who you are and what you look like, he is really exerting control over a facet of your identity that could extend to others. He could unconsciously be insecure about your appearing more attractive to other men after you have the surgery. Similarly, he could feel that that he has the upper hand in the relationship because you are not as physically attractive as he is.  I don’t mean that he has nefarious motives in his relationship with you, only that he might not be aware of how and why he is limiting your autonomy.

You don’t have to accuse him of being controlling, but you do need to let him know that you are going to be responsible for yourself and whatever you think is important to you and how you feel about yourself in all ways. Talk to him about changing your look in other respects if you want to and about the uncertainty of transmitting your genes to offspring. But most important, let him know that unless you solicit his point of view, judgment, reaction, or any other input, you will decide what you think is best for you without his oversight or veto-power.

Clearly communicating to your fiancé before you get married that you will not be submitting to his whims establishes precedent for what kind of wife and partner you will be. This is part of a process of getting to know each other before making your pledge to each other. You don’t have to shout, turn red, or stamp your feet, but be firm (not defensive, because you don’t have to defend your intentions), when you send the message to your fiancé, as the kids in elementary school say, “You’re not the boss of me!”  If you are going to be his wife and not his child, you need to let him know which one you expect to be treated as.

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  1. First of all, Whit, are you sure you’re not a woman? Your answer is right on target, in my view. Here’s to a “liberated man”!

    Now–what would you say about a fiance or husband who pressured his girlfriend/wife INTO getting a nose job (or other body adjustment)? I used to work with someone who took a “vacation” once a year and went down to somewhere, I think it was in South America, to “get work done.” The place she went was kind of like a resort–you went under the knife and then hid out with all the comforts of a nice resort while the bruises went away. Her husband kept finding things–crows feet at the corners of her eyes, lines on her neck, the beginnings of sagging jawline–and wanting to “give her a present” by taking her to this swanky place so she could get retooled while he hung out at the pool and drank margaritas. Ugh. She acted like it was okay with her, but I found the whole thing very creepy.

  2. Thanks for the atta-boy (or atta girl), Unadapted. Maybe the wife figures she is better off going in for a scheduled-maintenance tune-up than having to be traded in.

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