A Love Letter to the Elephant in the Room

There are very few things I won’t write about. I consider myself an open book. But, today I’m going to finally face the elephant in the room (pun intended), the thing I never talk about or write about: my nose.

My nose is longer than some. It has a bump on it. It’s not that cute little pixie nose girls are supposed to have. I’ve known this since I was seven years old. And if I didn’t hear it from others (and I did), I heard it from myself: big, crooked, hooked, ugly, witch’s nose, what a honker...

I spent most of my life hating it—turning straight toward every camera for a picture, not making a facial silhouette on Arts and Crafts Day in Girl Scouts, wearing bright lipstick to try to take the attention away. In high school, I wanted a nose job, and my mom finally caved and said I could. Luckily, before I did, I met my husband, who has only ever made my feel like the most beautiful woman in the room, and I forgot about it for a while. For years. As my mom says, “I can’t see what I look like. I can only see my inside, and I like how that looks.”

And then. I recently received a very hateful text, about not only my nose, but my baby’s nose. For those of you who don’t know—I’m 25 weeks pregnant with my first baby. It’s a beautiful, hard, vulnerable time. And the person in question texted me (accidentally, meaning the text for someone else) about how I was bringing another “hook-nosed baby” into the world. It not only attacked my looks and my decision to have a baby, but also judged my baby’s looks before they’re even born. How low is that?

And it freaking hurt. I cried at work, and I never cry at work. I cried on the hour-long treacherous drive home through a snowstorm. I am a happy, normally cheery person, and this day, I broke down. Because it wasn’t about me, it was about my baby.

And I realized (when the fog cleared), that I never want my child—or any child, teen, person, reader—to feel what I did when I read that text. Ashamed of their differences. And so today, I’m confronting my elephant in the room, and I’m giving it love. In the hopes that you—or any child, teen, person, reader—can feel love for the things that you’ve felt unbeautiful or unworthy about. Because if you acknowledge it, and you love it, then you take the power away from those who want to use it to hurt you.

(And you know what? If my baby gets my nose, I’m going to tell them about the beauty in it, the history of the family schnozz. And if they cry in middle school because someone calls them a witch, then I’m going to hold them and tell them that sometimes people are mean because they’re meaner to themselves. That all you can do is love yourself, and be kind. Because people will forget your face, the little ways you were “weird” or different, but as Maya Angelou said: “...people will never forget how you made them feel.”)

So here goes:

Dearest Nose,

You rolling mountain of majesty,

peppered with freckly specks.

You one-of-a-kind sculpture

that reminds me of my family,

my beautiful late Aunt Kathy,

whose bump matched mine,

who told me I’m always beautiful

in my heart.

You, who taught me to look past

the differences in others,

and look them in the eyes,

and be kind, always.

To love them no matter what,

to love myself no matter what.

You, who my husband

loves to kiss and smile at,

who little kids love to grab

and honk and wonder at.

You, who taught me

what it means to be unique,

who taught me to laugh at myself,

and develop a sense of human,

of different but all beautiful,

of acceptance without condition.

You craggy cliff,

you honker,

you of the humpety bump—

I see you,

and I love you.

(And in the words of Lizzie McGuire: You rock, don’t ever change)

A picture I would have never posted before, a side profile-- my nose in all its glory as I sign my first novel.