When I walk past a group of people, I try to subtly hide my face with my hand or turn my head away. If someone takes a picture of me, I have to look at it before it’s allowed to exist online or at all. And pictures of my profile? I do everything I can to prevent them from being taken. I taught myself at a young age to pose so that my nose in each picture appears as small, and therefore as ‘beautiful’ as possible.
Since I can remember, my nose has been my biggest insecurity. I am Iraqi, but I often hear that it is not necessarily very clear to me. Except for my nose that is. I have what you call a typical ‘Arab nose’. It is large, striking and has a bulge on the bridge of the nose.
When I was about eleven years old I started talking about a nose job. As a teenager I often wondered why I didn’t have a ‘normal’ nose and why I didn’t look like my friends. Not surprising, because I grew up in a white environment where few people of color live. It gave beauty to me a certain meaning, and with it came a cute little nose.
I’m 25 now and haven’t had anything done to my nose yet. Secretly, I long to have a nose that I like. But even more, I long for a moment when I am truly grateful for my own nose. As a proud Arab woman, I just want to embrace my background and all that comes with it. But I’d be lying if I pretended my insecurities are gone. On TikTok, I see one page profile check after another. Some with noses that many believe would be the perfect shape, often before-and-after photos of procedures. Others with filters that supposedly make your nose ‘ugly’. But I also see videos where ‘our noses’ are actually embraced.
In an interview with fashion Bella Hadid admitted she regrets her nose job. The model, with Palestinian and Dutch roots, underwent the procedure when she was fourteen. “If only I had kept my ancestors’ nose. I think I would have grown into it,” Hadid said in the interview. Statements like that make me think. Suppose I were to consider a nose job, would I lose part of my identity and background? A piece of myself?
Western ideals of beauty are prevalent on social media. And they don’t always make self-acceptance easy. Although I don’t know if ‘acceptance’ is the word I’m looking for. Because why do we always talk about accepting as if it was actually a bad thing?
I spoke to three women to find out where our insecurities come from, what it’s like to be bullied because of your nose, the influence of social media on the ideal of beauty and what a rhinoplasty can do to your self-image.
“Witch’s nose”, “crow” or other big-nosed animals – I’ve heard it all. At first I thought I was the only one who saw it, but comments like that confirmed to me that my nose was really big. At school, I saw few people who looked like me, which made me even more insecure.
When I became active as an influencer and started working with brands, I started editing my photos. Social media made me even more aware of my nose. At one point I was so preoccupied with it that it became an obsession. I cried often, I was really not happy. That’s why I had a nose job done in Turkey a few years ago.
I have a pretty big reach on social media and I still get a lot of questions about my rhinoplasty. I am a Muslim and cosmetic procedures are actually not allowed, we see that as a sin. Although I have now chosen to change something about myself, I don’t want others to make the same mistake, because they have seen it in me. Additionally, I don’t want young girls to feel that a nose is only beautiful when it’s small. I do not want to give advice or answer questions about my procedure.
If I could turn back time, I honestly would never have had a nose job. It has also removed a part of my identity. I’m Syrian and everyone always saw immediately that I was Arab or Middle Eastern, but now you don’t see that at all anymore. People now think I’m European. When I look at other Arab women now and they have a bump or hook nose, I think it’s so beautiful.
I then asked my doctor if he could give me a baby nose. I wanted the opposite of what I had, I really wanted the bare minimum. A baby nose, huh? I realize now: this is really not normal. The nose I have now does not match my face at all. Afterwards, I realized that we are all born the way we should look. I really regret not seeing it sooner, it makes me very sad.
Many people warned me in advance and told me that I was beautiful, but even if the whole world says so, you have to find yourself beautiful and learn to appreciate yourself. Now people sometimes call me a pig, so if you do that to others, it’s never good. When I see pictures from the past I think: look how beautiful you were, Dima. If only I could turn back time and say that to myself before I walked into that operating room.
I want to say to all the people struggling with this: Think it through. It is not a temporary filler that you can take out again. You can’t go back after a rhinoplasty. I think this is why we need to teach the next generation that every nose is beautiful, no matter how big, small, straight or crooked it is. And how important self-love is.
I was incredibly unsure. I used to get bullied a lot on my nose, by family members, friends and at school. Everyone always commented on it and it had a huge impact on my self-image. I came to think my nose was ugly. It cost me a lot of energy. When I was in conversation with someone, I was only concerned with how to stand, so that my nose looked nicer or less visible.
That insecurity grew, so I started editing my nose in photos to make it look smaller. When I looked at those pictures, I thought: I’m the shit. I finally felt beautiful and posted the pictures on Instagram.
I often thought about a nose job during that time. Actually: I applied for a visa to go to Iran, to get my nose done there. The money, a doctor and everything around that was already arranged. But for some reason my visa application kept getting rejected. My application was eventually accepted, but I never went. My mom said, “If you do your nose, you’re not my Farrah anymore.” If I’m not her Farrah anymore, what am I to myself?
During the time I was editing my photos and thinking about a nose job, I found that I was never really satisfied. Then I looked at such an edited picture and I thought: okay, if I get my nose done, I should actually fill my chin a little with filler. That it would never be good enough and I would never be satisfied was a scary thought because I am already good leg. And my nose too. A nose gives character. It gives just that special touch to your face. I don’t judge when people choose to go for a nose job if it makes them happy. Everyone is free to do that, but I don’t mind it anymore.
Now I no longer share edited photos, but only my page profile, full of pride. I saw Maya Samaha post a picture of the side of her face. She was incredibly beautiful, right through the nose. After seeing her and more and more people taking such pictures, I dreamed of being able to do it too. Until I thought: why couldn’t I? Then I put on my make-up and photographed from the side. Since then, I suddenly really like my nose. I like a hooked nose, a bump on your nose, a big nose. I love everything about it.
I also hate it when people say: love your imperfections. My nose is not an imperfection. I am Moroccan/Amazigh, we are known for our big noses and I am proud of it.
I don’t necessarily post those pictures to inspire people, but I show that I’m proud of how I look. I get private messages daily from people thanking me for showing them that their nose is beautiful the way it is. Some say I even motivated them not to get a nose job. It sounds cliché, but things like this make me so happy.
Although I have become very confident, I still get nasty comments from time to time. “With your big nose”, or something like that. Recently I was in the supermarket where I used to work and I had a chat with an ex-colleague who said: “You really are very beautiful if you just did your nose.” I thought that was such a strange comment.
From group 3 in primary school, children started bullying me with their noses. If you have a small face, you will notice if your nose is large or has a bump. I did too. Children can be mean.
I also got comments later, for example when I was going out. When I passed a busy terrace I tried to run as fast as I could, turning my head away or wearing sunglasses so that my nose was not clearly visible. If I wasn’t interested in a man who addressed me, I often heard something like: “what are you thinking with your nose” – while before that I was interesting. Such experiences made me insecure, which e.g. made me photoshop my nose in pictures. I’ve always been honest about it with my followers on social media. I wasn’t always insecure either: some days I told myself I was beautiful, even with a nose that wasn’t ‘perfect’.
When I was 27, I had enough money for a nose job, so I flew to Turkey. I don’t think I lost my identity because of it, because I just look the same. My nose is still not ‘perfect’, only the bulge is gone. It has made me feel very confident about how I look now. As a content creator, I occasionally participate in press events, where photos are often taken unexpectedly. I have no problem with that anymore.
My parents inherited the bullying and insecurity in my childhood. Although they always said I was already beautiful, even with that bump on my nose, they thought it was important for me to be happy. Even if it meant changing something about my face. This is also how I stand now that I am a mother myself. I don’t want to encourage it, but if it really is a struggle for my child, then I think his happiness is more important and I won’t hold it back.
I’m also open about it on social media. I once did a Q&A about it on Instagram where people could ask me anything about my rhinoplasty. After that, two girls went to the same doctor as me. I didn’t want to encourage that with the round of questions, but I wanted to be transparent. If your nose is really an insecurity, then it should be possible. I hope people don’t underestimate it. A rhinoplasty is an operation where there is always a risk of complications. So I hope people don’t change their noses because they see a trend on social media. Trends change seasonally, and so do beauty standards.