To the woman who once told me I had a beautiful nose,
You’ll never know how much your compliment meant to me. I believe I told you it made my entire week at the time. Years later, it’s still stuck with me.
You see, about two weeks ago, I was on the receiving end of what might be the worst tweet I’ve had directed at me yet. (Unfortunately, as a writer, it comes with the territory these days.) After publishing a story about Ellen DeGeneres’ Usain Bolt meme, one individual decided to express his disagreement with my headline by calling me a “cunt” and an “ugly ass witch nosed bitch.” (Obviously, he or she is perfect…) The first insult stung a little at first — cunt, though working it’s way into the feminist dialogue by way of “The Vagina Monologues,” is such a harsh word — but the second insult really hit hard. (And that’s not even including the part about hoping my home gets bombed…)
You see, when I was a kid, I hated my nose. HATED IT. Growing up, I used to tell my sister to punch me in the face so I could get plastic surgery. I thought if I broke my nose, a doctor would have to fix it (read: make it smaller). When I was in elementary school, maybe 5th or 6th grade, a few boys whom I considered friends, took a liking to calling me “BNB,” which stood for “Big Nose Brucculieri.” I genuinely believe they meant no harm, though they likely found pleasure in the teasing. But man, am I thankful the Internet and mobile phones weren’t overtaking school playgrounds when I was younger. Those words hurt. They also cemented the fact in my mind that my nose was ugly. Not good enough. Wrong.
Throughout my preteen years, I tried my best to push those feelings into the back of my mind. But then I made the mistake of cutting my hair very short, which only brought more attention to my nose. I was always self-conscious. Always wishing my nose was smaller. Always trying to speak to people face-to-face, so they couldn’t see my profile.
By the end of high school and into university, I finally came to accept my nose. I had “grown into my features,” as they say, and now, I’m not too bothered by my schnoz. (Thanks, mom, for always telling me to just love myself for who I am/what I look like.)
Every now and then, I have my bad days. Days when I wish I had the nose of a Kardashian or maybe even Jennifer Lawrence. But alas, I’m not in a position to drop thousands of dollars to change my face, so I just live with it. (For those who can/want to undergo cosmetic surgery, all the power to you.)
Most of the time, I can deal with the bouts of low self esteem. “It happens to everyone,” I tell myself. But then people like this Twitter troll come along and really put a damper on my confidence.
It’s time like these, though, that I think back to that day you came into the shop while I was working. You were up at the counter, paying for your magazines, and for some reason you kept looking at me funny. I was thinking to myself, “Oh god, she’s probably staring at my nose, unable to look away because of how big it is.” But while you were looking at my nose, it wasn’t because you thought it was big, ugly or grotesque. Instead, it was because you thought it was beautiful.
You, a total stranger, told me my nose was beautiful. You even called it “a Hollywood nose,” said it was “distinguished.” I was at a loss for words. No one, aside from my family or very loving partner who are obligated to say such things, had ever told me I had a beautiful nose. You saw the beauty in something society and kids on the school playground told me wasn’t good enough. I hope I can do the same for someone else some day.
I wasn’t lying when I said your compliment made my entire week. And I’m not lying now, saying that it still helps me get through those bad self-confidence days.
So, thank you, woman in the magazine store. I never got your name, but your words will be with me forever.