Journey to Self-Acceptance: V 2.0

I was never the same after that accident, for better and for worse.

Our wounds heal, but once something is broken, as you know, it is never as pristine as it was before. My left shoulder was permanently separated, and it hurt like hell. I still can’t sleep on my left side for long periods of time, as a result. I fractured my left eye socket. And, of course, I broke my nose. I BROKE MY NOSE!

That last injury was the answer to my prayers.

My nose, once it healed, was just a big as it was before, and now slightly crooked. But the fact that it had been broken in a car accident in which I was an innocent passenger meant one thing: “fixing” it would be 100% covered by my boyfriend’s insurance company. God bless insurance!

V, Version 2.0

And fix it is what I did. During Christmas break of my senior year of high school, I said goodbye to my Greek nose, forever. Dr. Laird gave me a new nose, which still wasn’t perfect, but it was the most beautiful nose I had ever seen. And it was mine.

Coming out of my shell...

Coming out of my shell…

After Christmas break, the kids at school noticed the difference, and marveled at it. People went out of their way to compliment me, and although I knew it was only because now I was prettier, I didn’t care. For the rest of the academic year, I was able to just enjoy school without the daily anxiety of trying to hide my nose. I finally felt “normal.” I walked across that graduation stage with honors and my head held high—in profile, of course.

Cosmetic surgery is a very personal choice, and it can have life-changing results. Rhinoplasty, for me, wasn’t about wanting to be pretty per se, but about release from the mental anguish my nose caused me. I didn’t expect it to make me pretty. I just wanted to be able to go to class, go out, live my life without contemplating my nose every waking moment of every single day.

That day in December, 1989, V 2.0 was born. To say that my nose job changed my life is an understatement. It gave me confidence…the confidence many of you have told me you admire…to focus squarely on my goals and achieve them. To find mental peace and love for myself, and actually feel that I was worthy of love and kindness in return. To stand up for myself and voice my opinions, fearlessly.

I’ve read that many keep their adventures in cosmetic surgery a closely-guarded secret. I have never felt that way about my nose job; why should I be ashamed or secretive about something that was so positive for me?

Self-acceptance…after cosmetic surgery?

Yes. And I’m very aware that having unnecessary surgery to change something on your face is basically the opposite of accepting it.

I’ve heard all the reasons people have for not wanting or supporting cosmetic surgery too:

But it’s not what God intended.

But it’s your ethnic heritage.

But it’s not natural.

So I say: Honey, if God was so opposed to me having a nose job, then he wouldn’t have intervened with a car accident that was just serious enough to break the one thing I hated. (I’m kidding, people!). Survivors of breast cancer who have mastectomies and rebuild their breasts with implants…you think He holds that against them too? It’s cosmetic surgery, no matter the reason. It’s a blessing and a miracle for so many men and women.

And I say: Heritage, schmeritage. I’m no less Greek-American with a smaller nose. Changing my nose doesn’t make me lose my ability to speak Greek or celebrate the customs of my culture.

And I say: You proponents of “natural” beauty, show me a woman in the western world who doesn’t do one of these things (or all of them): shave her legs, color her hair, tweeze her eyebrows, wear acrylic or gel nails, or makeup. I don’t know a single woman is 100% in her natural, God-given state. We all do something. There is nothing wrong with tweaking your appearance if it makes you feel better, whether that is cosmetic surgery, $325 highlights, or wearing drugstore lipstick. And really, we don’t want to see each other in our unrefined states. Trust me on that.

Cosmetic surgery, a nose job, specifically, seems like a vain, selfish endeavor. I know that. But for me, it actually was the opposite. If you are obsessively focused on a flaw—perceived or real—you really can’t focus on anything (or anyone) else. Case in point: Before my nose job, I was a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding. For one shot, the photographer wanted the wedding party to look at the bride and groom, who were in the middle. That required us to turn our heads and be photographed in profile. I was so uneasy about it, the photographer asked me three times to turn my head and I just flatly refused. Eventually I gave in because I was actually drawing more attention to myself by refusing. But it was devastating to me knowing that my cousin and everyone who saw the photo would also see my big, hooked nose. I came off like a spoiled brat instead of a girl who was just really insecure about having her picture taken.

I’ve had my version 2.0 nose for 24 years, longer than I had my version 1.0 nose. It was instrumental in my journey to authentic, I’m-OK-in-this-skin self-acceptance. 

My albatross had finally flown away…but there is still more to this journey to tell…

Are you contemplating cosmetic surgery? Or have you had it? How did it impact your life?

This post is part of my Journey to Self-Acceptance series. If you haven’t read The Moment I Realized I Wasn’t Pretty, start there. Next post: Journey to Self-Acceptance: V 3.0

Comments

  1. says

    “For one shot, the photographer wanted the wedding party to look at the bride and groom, who were in the middle. That required us to turn our heads and be photographed in profile. I was so uneasy about it, the photographer asked me three times to turn my head and I just flatly refused. Eventually I gave in because I was actually drawing more attention to myself by refusing. But it was devastating to me knowing that my cousin and everyone who saw the photo would also see my big, hooked nose. I came off like a spoiled brat instead of a girl who was just really insecure about having her picture taken.”

    Oh Vahni, I empathize with this story so much. When the fella & I went to his sister’s wedding, I got shoved into family portraits. Not expecting this, I was wearing a dress I love, but that, from a profile, can definitely make me look pregnant. The photographer kept making the same call for us to stand at a 3/4 angle, and I kept trying to cheek myself straight forward…. meanwhile, Garren was cringing in the audience, because he could tell how uncomfortable his parents had made me (by making me get in the photos) and how uncomfortable the photographer was making me.
    Ashe’s latest post: ODYLYNE Fall 2013 CollectionMy Profile

    • says

      Hi sweets, thanks for sharing your experience with me. Clearly we are both cameraphobes! Seriously, the only time I am 100% comfortable taking photos is when I’m 100% by myself.

  2. says

    I love this! I miss reading your blog and I was glad to see you on my roll this morning! I had a baby 2 years ago and although back to pre-baby weight and tummy flat, YUP you read that right FLAT! I have stretch marks, just a few (3 long ones) that I am researching how to remove with cosmetic surgery!

    Sounds vein yes, but I fixate on it. I could be playing with my daughter and if my top fly’s up I’m done no more playing. It’s not fair to my daughter but something so small that is under my top affects me more than people think. So I totally get where you’re coming from.

    In the end it’s all about how YOU FEEL! Who cares what everyone else thinks. I am glad you shared this story I never knew and now knowing all I have to say is AWSOME surgeon! 

    • says

      Thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing. We all have our “thing,” right? I totally get you on this.

      In doing your research, be sure you check out all the latest laser technology. They can really do wonders. I had a keloid scar revised and treated with a laser and it is almost invisible now. And there’s like no downtime. It’s good stuff!

  3. says

    Okay, this one made me cry.

    For the longest time, I totally judged people who got plastic surgery (“how could they be so insecure that they have to PAY someone to change something that GOD gave them?”) but I completely understand now. I started getting gray hair at a young age (I’m 26, they started sprouting when I was 22). It’s genetic — it happened to my mother and her mom, too (in fact, my grandmother was completely gray by the time she was 30). I didn’t think anything of it until my (male, good-looking) boss pointed it out. He said something like “wow, you have gray hair.” I was absolutely mortified and dyed it the next day. I used to dye it for fun, but now it’s out of necessity. I dye it every month from a box. If I don’t, I don’t feel good about myself. It’s different from your nose, but at the same time, it’s very much the same. I get it now…
    THE-LOUDMOUTH’s latest post: Look :: Pool Party at the RanchMy Profile

    • says

      Aw, didn’t mean to make you cry, boo! But that’s kind of good ’cause it means my words really resonated with you.

      I’m glad you have made peace with plastic surgery, and your grey hair (even if that means coloring it). My mom went very grey, very early too. She’s been blonde for decades for that reason. Now her hair is a gorgeous white but I won’t let her stop being a platinum blonde because she is so young at heart…she would look to old with a head of white hair.

      I started going grey at about age 29, and have been dying my hair my natural color about every 4-5 weeks since. Um, TOTAL NECESSITY! So, honey, I getcha! While I am not severely grey, it’s enough to sparkle in my dark hair and make me also feel way older than I am inside. No can do.

      But you, know, it’s a very, very VERY common thing, so I hope you have come to terms with it. How about all those blondes who are brunettes, but can’t stand the thought of being a brunette ever again? No different for them. They’re dying that hair every 4 weeks too. There is hardly a woman in the world over age 16 who doesn’t dye her hair.

      xo

  4. says

    I have had what is technically a “plastic surgery”. Mine wasn’t on my face, but to remove a rather sizable lipoma (lump of fat) that was high inside my left thigh. It was very unsightly in a bathing suit and because I told the doctor that it interfered with my ability to sit down, it was removed. My youngest daughter has had a therapeutic plastic surgery as well. Basically, her top jaw was broken and reset to fix a bucked tooth condition.
    Terri’s latest post: Day Glo Chic: An Experiment in IdentityMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Terri, I think the majority of use have had something done…LASIK, moles removed, cosmetic dentistry, braces…really, that’s kind of the way of the world today. I’m just glad there isn’t this stigma associated with discussing procedures anymore. I feel like by talking about it, we may not only help others find solutions to physical issues that irritate them, but we also make it OK to admit it.

  5. says

    I don’t see anything wrong with something like Rhinoplasty. It’s people like certain celebrities that go overboard with the surgery to the point where it changes their look, not enhance it. I am glad that you were able to find that confidence after just one procedure.

    • says

      Thanks, Natasha! I wouldn’t say I’ve only had one procedure…I’ve had another, plus LASIK to fix my vision, but I’m pretty much done. There is nothing else I need to resolve; I’m happy with where I am. Sure, I could be skinnier, but I’m just sick of worrying about 10 measly pounds. Sometimes I’m up 10 (right now), sometimes I’m down. But I’m alive, and healthy, and happy. And THAT is what matters!

  6. says

    It’s interesting how as we get older we grow more secure about our body image and it’s an interesting insight into your own personal journey. As I’ve always thought you were stunning! I remember in the interview you did with oh ashe you mentioned that you’d had cosmetic surgery and wondered what you’d had done.

    I don’t see a problem with it as long as it makes people happy then why not go for it? I applaud you for being so honest on here (you always are anyway) and hope it will give strength to any younger women that come across your blog that are also suffering with similar issues.

    • says

      Aw, thanks Arash! I always say: I am my greatest project! I’m always striving to be the best version of me. Sometimes I’m at my optimum place, sometimes I’m not, but I’ve finally reached that point in my life and womanhood that I am just fine with who I am, right now. Doesn’t mean I don’t beat myself up about needing to lose a few pounds, or skipping the gym. It just means I’m not going to go off the deep end about it. I’m not sad about it, it’s not stopping me from living life, you know?

      I appreciate your comment, and I do hope that by sharing, it might also legitimize the feelings of others, as you mentioned above.

  7. says

    Vahni, this series was amazing, I just read it all the way through – and bravo to you for writing about it! I completely agree with you – some of us are just born looking different than how we feel inside, and part of our journey is making our outside reflect how we feel on the inside. Most of us actually do feel prettier on the inside, and so we find it necessary to reflect that on the outside. It’s such a contradiction to what most people assume – that we feel ugly on the inside and use physical bettering to counteract it.
    Kristina’s latest post: August FavoritesMy Profile

    • says

      Thank you, Kristina. And you make a great point that I don’t think many people realize…so many of us DO feel OK with ourselves inside. We just want the outside to match up. That’s the difference between people who have body dysmorphic disorder and are addicted to cosmetic surgery, and the people who have a procedure or two and are content. The ones with BDD are trying to fix an unhappy inside, and it never gets fixed that way. Clearly, there are deeper issues that nose job or breast enhancement are not going to fix.

      Miss you lady!

  8. Erica C. says

    I had my breasts done a couple of years ago. Growing up, I NEVER had breasts and was always self conscious about it even after I’d given birth to three daughters. I told my husband one day that I was going to have the surgery as a birthday gift to myself, and that’s what I did. I was 36 years old. I did for me, and it was one of the best decision that I had ever made. In six days I will turn 40 and at this stage in my life I really don’t see anymore work being done cosmetically but if by chance I do, I wouldn’t hesitate.

    And I think that you are absolutely beautiful.

    • says

      Thanks, Erica! I’m sure you know how much a difference it makes mentally when you are able to “fix” something that bothers you, that cannot be corrected by diet or exercise or makeup. I’m sure you love your results!

  9. says

    I’m really enjoying this series of yours, Vahni, and I so identify with a lot of what you’ve written here. I’ve never had “drastic” surgery, but a few years ago I did have a couple of moles removed from my face, for purely cosmetic reasons. It cost me a lot of money, but it was honestly one of the best things I ever did: my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner, because although it seems like such a small thing, those moles had made my life a misery throughout high school and beyond. When I realised how easily (if expensively!) I could get rid of them, I just jumped at the chance. My feeling is that if something is really making you unhappy and there’s an easy way to get rid of it, why wouldn’t you do it?
    Amber’s latest post: The September IssueMy Profile

    • says

      I’m a little late responding to your comment, Amber, but I do appreciate it! I’m glad you enjoyed this series, and that you did what you wanted to make yourself feel better too.

      I’m sure people would never think that, as pretty as you are, there was something about yourself you didn’t love. We all have something that grates us about ourselves, and when you just can’t come to terms with it, I agree that you should do what you need to do!

  10. says

    Cosmetic surgery is something I’ve gone back and forth on for years. I was always very thin growing up. My nickname was twigs and I was all angles everywhere. I was always teased, especially within my African American friends for not having hips, or a backside to speak of or large…heck any, breasts. My face never bothered me, I’ve learned to love my hair, the rest of my body is fine. As I got older and especially after having my daughter I started to look a little more womanly, but the boob job question is always there in my head. When I was pregnant and nursing I was IN LOVE with them. They weren’t huge, but they were there. Of course now it’s years later, and it seems like a crazy indulgence/expense, but I still find myself looking at how clothes fit, and imagining I’d feel just a tad more womanly and with a fuller cup.
    Whitney’s latest post: Two roads diverged…My Profile

    • says

      Hi Whitney, I have no idea why I didn’t respond to your comment on this post sooner, but I am now. All I’m going to say is this: that surgery you are contemplating? DO IT. Find a good doctor and go for it. You will wish you had done it sooner. ;)

  11. says

    OMG! I am reading this with tears in my eyes. Your journey AND your ‘solution’ are SO much
    Ike mine (minus the car accident;-)). If you read my post from today, you will recognize my thoughts and feelings. Also the ones about plastic surgery. I could not agree more! Fantastic that you hage written about it too and that you too let the world now about the effects of remarks like the ones we both endured, of bullying. And also about the judgement upon plastic surgery, while it can really be so healing and helpng us to become our best and happiest self!
    Well said, V, well said!
    Anja’s latest post: How plastic surgery changed my nose and my life. Part 1.My Profile

    • says

      Hi Anja, thank you for all your sweet comments on this series. I read your posts this morning, and I totally get why this struck a chord in you. You know, if one hates their toes or their ankles or knees, they can be hidden. But when the thing you despise is the nose on your face, there are no options. You have to look at it every day. People look at it every day. There is no escaping it. So cosmetic surgery really is the only option. Why suffer fools and personal pain when you don’t have to?

  12. says

    This has been truly inspiring, Vahni. I mean, people always criticize anyone who underwent surgery just to change their appearance but, seriously, they don’t even know the reason why they did it. They always categorize it to just being plain vanity but actually it’s not. and sometimes, it’s a lot more than that. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I really enjoyed reading your post.
    Kaye’s latest post: STOP the HATE: Why Do We Love To Hate People Who’ve Gone Under the KnifeMy Profile

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