Adapted from a recent online discussion.
It's okay to talk to young niece about her cosmetic surgery plan
Q: My niece is getting a nose job for her 18th birthday, for purely cosmetic reasons. Having grown up with the same distinctive Eastern European nose, and seeing the blossoming beauty in my niece, I am heartbroken.
I really want to tell her that looking the way I do was a liability at first, but that from age 25 onward it gave me a striking appearance that has become a part of who I am. Not that this should decide it for her, but I am sure that fitting in and male attention play a part in her desire to look more average. Should I just nose my way out of this?
Carolyn: Since your niece is young and hasn't filled out yet, and since the changes will be permanent, please tell your sibling you'd like to talk to your niece. Any time someone is on the cusp of a change that can't be undone, I think it's okay for loved ones to speak up, once.
Anonymous 1: I have the same nose, and 25 was the year I started feeling comfortable with it, too. A button nose would have completely unbalanced the rest of my strong features. I suggest a girls' night with your niece immediately — perhaps with a viewing of Dirty Dancing?
Carolyn: Good visual, thanks (of Jennifer Grey, who got the most publicly regretted nose job in history).
Anonymous 2: I have a beautiful friend who was toying with a nose job. Her ultimate decision was that she could not justify "fixing" it and then possibly having a daughter. She couldn't figure out how she'd parent a child who felt "different" when she herself had "fixed" her difference. It was fascinating to listen to her think through it. Of course, she was in her late 20s, not 18.
Carolyn: Interesting take, thanks.
Anonymous 3: Does your answer change when the person in question is 29? I'm debating having something "augmented" — not for my husband or anyone other than myself, but because I've always been flat as a pancake and it has affected how womanly I feel. At the same time, I'm almost afraid to go through with it because it seems like something "good girls" wouldn't do (I realize this sounds ridiculous, but I can't help it).
Carolyn: Yes, the answer change is huge, since the maturity leap from 18 to 28 is huge (or should be). But you're being so tough on yourself, both in your arguments for augmentation and against it. How about starting from a place of being kind to yourself, and seeing what decision that brings?
Augment this: No fan of plastic surgery, I was a big supporter of my best friend when she had "something" augmented. Why? Because it made her top half proportional to her bottom half, which helped her feel more comfortable. It ended up looking natural, and 10 years later she's still happy with her decision. Plus, she was in her 30s.
Carolyn: Thanks. Again, the emotional state is so important: Don't do it (or avoid it) because you're being tough on yourself. Be kind to yourself, then make the call.