Nose Job Memory

March 4, 2009

Among my earliest memories of my mother is her repeated complaints about the prominence of her nose and expressed hope to have it “fixed” one day. I thought of her nose when I saw this drawing from a 1930 nose reshaper ad.

She complained persistently for several years. Her hope, which my frugal father greeted with silence unless she pressed him, eventually became a demand.


I didn’t understand why it was so important to her, though I had no conception yet of vanity’s powerful sway. My mother looked beautiful to me, even when she was an irritable pain in my ass, not an infrequent occurrence.

Eventually my father relented. It must have been the mid 1960s, when rhinoplasty wasn’t commonplace. She traveled from our home in Maitland, outside Orlando, to Fort Lauderdale and returned with her new look.

She was thrilled. I wasn’t impressed, not that it mattered. Even as a kid I realized that she had lost her most distinctive feature and most obvious genetic link to her past (her mother had the same beaked nose, and I never heard her complain about it). For whatever reason, the big nose wasn’t passed along to any of her children or grandchildren.

All these years later, I imagine my father learning about the reshaper and trying to talk her into this low-cost but bogus treatment. Out of desperation she might have tried the device, checking for progress in the mirror every morning, her finger tracing a trail of disappointment.