I’ve Got Your Nose

Photo by Sam Lee

By Kiran Maypole

Sophomore Speech Winner, 2017

As the annual sophomore speech finals have come to a close, Denebola got the opportunity to obtain each finalist’s transcription, as well as a recording of their speech. Sophomore Kiran Maypole’s speech entitled “I’ve Got Your Nose” enabled her to win this year’s competition. Read Maypole’s speech below:

When I was younger, I hated my nose; the way the bridge looked too thick in the mirror, and just how big it was.

On the Indian side of my family, such a nose is passed down genetically, getting bigger as you grow, and they’ve nicknamed it the beak for its sharp, downward hook. This was the last thing I wanted. I was worried that with a nose like this, people would never take me seriously, push me away, and make my life amount to nothing. So, I told myself that when I was older, I would just get it fixed with a nose job.

This was when I was nine-years-old.

My sister is nine and can’t even master the microwave, much less make the life-altering decision of getting a body part surgically altered. But, that’s what I had resolved to do.

Now this was well before I learned that surgery is trauma. People often get surgery in the wake of trauma, but the life-saving surgery itself is also traumatic. You’re put into a coma, have a tube shoved down your throat, and are cut into with knives. Some surgery, however, isn’t essential; it’s elective procedures, like plastic surgery, that split into of two categories. Either reconstructive surgery, where surgeons fix defects from birth and injury to ensure normal bodily function, like a cleft palate repair; or cosmetic, which pertains to adjusting the body solely for visual appeal, as in a face lift.

Although it can be easily bought and paid for nowadays, cosmetic surgery is a life-altering decision and should be treated as such. Its increasing popularity has reached an unreasonable level, thanks in part to the celebrities who promote it, making it a symbol of status. Instead, we need to advertise the true consequences and harsh realities of these surgeries.

Many people justify undergoing cosmetic surgery as an empowering way to remove insecurities and make them a better person. They believe going under the knife will give them something that they’ve been missing, not considering the result could be unsatisfactory.

This is a harmful misconception, and a study reported by the American Psychology Association found people who got breast implants were four times more likely to commit suicide than people of the same age, without them. While it can provide a physical escape from insecurities, cosmetic surgery does not change people internally, so many looking for a newfound sense of self-worth aren’t satisfied.

This dissatisfaction with appearance is not new; it’s evident in the foot-bindings of the Han dynasty, and the corsets of the 16th century. Yet now, an increasing number of celebrities openly jumping on the cosmetic surgery bandwagon are making it the go-to beauty treatment.

Transform, a UK cosmetic surgery collective, recognizes the star-studded Kardashians as the catalyst for this spread. They have found a 73% increase in patients citing them as inspiration for procedures, and since Kylie got them, a 700% increase in inquiries about lip injections. As people want to imitate their favorite stars more and more, cosmetic surgery has become a symbol of status all over the world.

This October, I went to Ecuador to do reconstructive surgery on people with deformities who could not receive the care they needed. Right across the hall from where we were fixing cleft palates, repairs that allow children to eat normally, the native surgeons were doing cosmetic procedures on richer citizens, tucking tummies and blowing up butts. These cases took priority over those that needed surgery to survive, strengthening the connection of surgery to wealth, which is drawing people in, now more than ever.

It has led to an exponential rise in cosmetic surgery, making people feel justified in taking extreme measures to modify their bodies. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, last year alone, the US spent over $13 billion on 15.9 million cosmetic procedures, numbers that show a 115% increase from 2000 (2015 Plastic Surgery). This has fostered many new, bizarre procedures that surgeons now perform daily.

In an interview with plastic surgical resident at UMass Dr. Jing Qin, she mentioned a specific procedure called a Brazilian Butt Lift, in which a surgeon harvests fat from a specified donor site, usually the stomach, and injects it into the butt to create a bigger, curvier shape. Excessive procedures like this are representative of the lengths people will go for social affirmation, which is not healthy at all, but this is what our society has come to.

To fix this, we must create awareness of the true consequences. Cosmetic surgery, no matter how easy-breezy it may seem, is indeed surgery, and as with any surgery, there can be complications. The Mayo-Clinic cites bad reactions to anesthesia, fluid build up under the skin, and even nerve damage, all of which can remain with you forever, as permanent as the result of your operation (Mayo Clinic Staff). I saw this firsthand when I scrubbed in on a reconstructive nose job on a boy just a year older than me. We started by making an incision over the tip over the nose, inserted a metal file beneath the skin, and ground the bone down to get rid of a bump. Then, we took a mallet and chisel, and broke either side of the nose, and squeezed the broken, bloody bone up to give it a more egalitarian look. The result was amazing; what it took to reach that scared the hell out of me. It was true trauma, and that is something that no one should feel the need to undergo if given a choice.

So, cosmetic surgery really is a giant decision whose popularity has reached an unreasonable level, and does not provide the escape many believe it to. It’s messy and traumatic, and takes away parts of us that may make us feel insecure, but are also what make us unique, and ourselves.

So when that little nine-year-old girl who hated her nose stepped into that operating room, suddenly, getting a nose job didn’t seem to be the perfect solution anymore. It wasn’t worth letting them crush my face to bits for something that wouldn’t really change me. After all, beak or no, I’m still me, and that’s what counts.

If anyone was wondering, I have tried and found out that all of that contour makeup really does work.