My daughter, Aria, and I were lounging in bed the other morning. She ran her finger up and down the length of her 10-year-old button nose, feeling its smoothness, a straight line from bridge to tip. She crunched her face, looked like she was about to cry and staring straight ahead, simply said, “Am I going get a bump on my nose like yours?”
Pause. Beat. Pause. Beat.
“What do you mean?” I asked, totally casual, as if I hadn’t spent a year researching nose job surgeons at several points during my acting career after one casting director, a dear friend mind you, said, “Honey, you’ll never book work until you get your nose fixed, you need to look good from every angle for the camera.”
You look like a witch. I don’t want to look like a witch.
“You look like a witch. I don’t want to look like a witch. I like my nose the way it is," Aria said. "Daddy says I have a perfect nose.”
Blood boils. Steam from ears. Fangs sharpen.
“He said WHAT?!” (OK, breathe, breathe, men don’t know this shit, they are clueless when it comes to the messaging they send our girls, and thank god I am not married to one.) “Why would he say that? How did that come up!”
She could sense I was on one of those digging-to-find-out-exactly-what-daddy-said-to-Aria modes, because let’s face it, not all dads have awareness in these areas.
She quickly covered for him with something like, “Oh he just thinks my nose is cute. But I just really don’t want that bump! Am I going to inherit it? Is it in my genes?”
I was speechless, excited and nervous. Here was one of those perfect opportunities to spew about well, you know, all things related to the subject of self love, acceptance, non-comparison, appreciating our inner beauty, blah, blah, ... the stuff girl magazines write articles about, while selling you every product on earth that sends the exact opposite message on the next page.
“I love my nose!” I say. Keep it simple stupid. “It’s original.”
“But when did the bump come?” She wasn’t interested in my self-love.
“I think it was pretty straight like yours when I was 10. I don’t really remember. Maybe I broke it? It was always really straight. I don’t know. It just happened. It’s not that bad!”
Aria panics, “Yes it is, I hate it. I don’t know what I’ll do if that happens to me!”
“Aria, first of all, this is not something to worry about. Or even think about. Your nose is your nose and it will always be amazing for that reason.”
“Not if I grow a bump on it like yours it won’t.”
I felt my nose. I only think about my nose when I take a picture. Yes, I have a better side. Yes, there is a slight bump. But I'm cool with it. I like it. I never did fix it, nor would I ever. It's me.
Oy veh, this was not going well. Of course, in my back pocket I had the story of promise to offer Aria. The one about the “potential option” if she developed some unlivable bump. You know, the plastic surgery card. We saw a teen girl with her mom on our walk yesterday wearing a post summer nose job bandage and Aria said, “Wow, she must have run into a wall!” "More like a knife," I mumbled.
I tried every tactic to steer her into a "let's not pick apart body parts" and "love who we are however we turn out," but she was not buying it.
I pondered ways to say. If you were truly miserable, there is an option. But that’s as far as I got in my head. There was no way I was even mentioning this to her. And despite all the blaring, over-sized signs that she can read everywhere like “Freeze the Fat” (“What the heck is that?!” she asked) and the fact that I also write about this stuff for Groomed LA, it’s just way too off the charts for me to drop that into her consciousness.
While I am well-versed and in full support of the power of plastic surgery to deal with real, deep, long-term body image struggles, I know it to be a last stop and a decision for adults. Still, I did not want Aria to start fifth grade with the awareness that this exists—that we can change ourselves just like that.
I am scared for Aria. I am scared for her to lose her innocence around this. And while this is a huge hot button topic with social media making our girls insane, I keep imagining my child will be immune for some reason. But I know she wont be, no matter how hard I try to shield her. Even with the boxes upon boxes of skin care, anti-aging and beauty treatments that are send to me as a blogger, which I explain as "things that are supposed to be good for you skin," I know I am doomed.
But I never heard her complain about a body part before.
She seemed really upset. And I tried every tactic to steer her into a "let's not pick apart body parts" and "love who we are however we turn out," but she was not buying it.
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I'm hoping this conversation goes away. That she will forget about it. But I know she won't. It will only get worse. All I can do is model self body love. When my kids hit my butt and say "you have a big bouncy butt!" I always answer, "Damn straight and I LOVE it!" Even though I can no longer squeeze it into my favorite jeans.
I say I love it. I show them I love it. And you know what? I do love it.