The Schnoz

Kindergarten silhouette

Kindergarten silhouette

When I was nine years old, an artist friend of my parents told me I had a classic Roman nose and profile.  I wasn’t sure I knew what that meant, but almost fifty years later I remember it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my nose the last ten days, as I am recovering from surgery to repair a deviated septum.  My nose and its non-stoppable mucous production have been at the center of my existence as the need for rest and a fuzzy mind have precluded much else from consideration. (Surgery went well, and there’s been no pain, just discomfort and tiredness.)

Portrait age 11

Portrait age 11

By the time I got to high school, I was well aware I didn’t have the kind of beauty celebrated in the media, and it was painful for me.  I made my best attempts to “fix the problem” with hair style and makeup, but was never very skilled so that didn’t work.

High School Senior Photo

High School Senior Photo

Salvation (at least to some degree) came from an unlikely source:  my mother’s subscription to Vogue magazine.  In the mid sixties, during my high school years, Barbra Streisand and Cher became popular, and Vogue often featured them in multi-page spreads, with full-page facial portraits, including in profile.  These were immediately cut out and taped to my bedroom wall, reminding me that there is more than one archetype of beauty. In fact, it was clear that Barbra would have had a nose job, except that it could change her voice—too big a risk! Still, Vogue clearly considered her beautiful.  So that when people told me I looked like Barbra, I could smile and say “thank you.”  My senior photo shows my homage to her in hairstyle and (softened) makeup.

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7 Responses to The Schnoz

  1. Frances Ross says:

    Beautiful photos!

  2. Susan J says:

    Beautiful, dear.

  3. Mary Kay Wagner says:

    Gorgeous photo Kathy. You are simply beautiful! xoxo

  4. Ginny says:

    As I recall, both Cher and Barbara called attention to their own noses, with humor and with pride. They knew what others thought of big noses, but they knew they were beautiful women and demanded agreement. It was easy to give. So they did open our girlhoods’ personal worlds– and those terrible pre-feminist days needed a lot of opening-up in almost every direction. One of the most important ways, and so difficult it remains a work in progress, is our self-images. Women and men.
    Here’s a perspective that effected me: Sharon Tate was in my graduating class, and she was probably the most lonely girl in school. She was so beautiful that no one knew what to do with her, girls or boys. She was one of the few who had no date for the senior prom. Instead, she very kindly set up a small beauty nook in the music room and helped us tongue-tied girls to primp up for our dates.

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