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Elspeth McLean:

Faith in bigger boobs
and smaller noses


Some kids are born lucky and it's not fair,  I told myself as I was busy painting myself into a corner on my deck last week.   As I slopped quick-drying black goo haphazardly about,  I reflected on the good fortune of British teenager Jenna Franklin,  whose parents are willing to pay for breast-enlarging surgery for her 16th birthday in August.

She's been hankering for bigger boobs since she was 12 and,  at the ripe old age of 14,  decided that she'd really like to go from an A to a C or D cup.   Mum and Dad,  instead of telling her not to be so ridiculous,  breast size doesn't maketh the woman and there are plenty of women with D-sized breasts who would like to be smaller,  are right behind her.   They're in the plastic surgery business so they know looks are everything,  even if it means putting things into your body that might be harmful or painful in the long run.

Jenna,  bless her,  thinks that having her breasts enlarged will give her more self-confidence.   I think it will give her bigger breasts.   I wonder fleetingly how you know when someone has enough self-confidence  --  how many shy teenagers would like having their boobs discussed in public or photos of themselves flashed about the world?



OK,  so I'm envious.   I have never thought the answer to all my troubles would be found in a bigger bra but,  when I was Jenna's age,  I wanted plastic surgery.   Conveniently ignoring my pudginess,  my fizz-bottle-bottom glasses,  freckles,  pimples,  frizzy hair,  and the size of my breasts,  I knew my quest to be a sex object would be complete if only I had a smaller nose.   (I know it's not politically correct to have wanted to be a sex object,  but any teenager knows that no prospective partner is going to get around to admiring your mind if he or she is physically repelled before you open your mouth.)

My nose was big and useless  --  it didn't keep my eyes a decent distance apart and was completely the wrong shape for wearing glasses in comfort.   When I discarded the fizz-bottle-bottoms for social occasions,  there were always two red blotches on the side of my conk screaming  "make no passes at this girl,  she wears glasses".   In the winter time it was blue with cold and in the summer time any passing ray of sunshine zeroed in on it,  leaving it in an unattractive constant state of exfoliation.   I think I could have coped if it was good for party tricks,  but,  try as I might,  I couldn't emulate the girl at school who could put a handkerchief up one nostril and bring it out the other.

I studied magazines that showed you how to use foundation cleverly to make your beak look smaller in a dim light.   I followed their instructions carefully a few times before realizing that using foundation on freckles of my ferocity made it seem I was trying to cover up an incurable skin ailment.   Friends asked me if I was sick,  but nobody marvelled at the smallness of my nose.

My ideal nose was that of film star Ali MacGraw.   I imagined we weren't that dissimilar.   Well,  we both had dark hair.   While my contemporaries were boasting about how many buckets of tears they spilled in her dying scene in  Love Story,  I cynically cried none.   "Hell,  how could anyone believe she was going to die?   She didn't even look sick,"  I snorted.   I didn't tell them that I was too busy looking at the perfection of that little,  straight nose to take much notice of the plot.



I never shared my desire for a nose job with my parents.   I knew Dad,  who would have to foot the bill,  would roar with laughter.   He was the proud possessor of a prominent proboscis and given to making groan-inducing jokes about it:  "No,  I never picked my nose when I was a boy.   I would have picked a smaller one,"  etc.

Consequently,  I never had the surgery.   I never became a sex object either.   Over the years,  I have grown used to my nose.   It bothers me still when it dangles into the froth on a cappuccino,  or gets stuck in a champagne flute or shot glass.   I know the answer is to give up drinking coffee,  bubbly and strong liquor,  but it's not easy.   I have almost resigned myself to the fact that it will get longer and more prominent as I age.   The offspring already tell me it wouldn't look out of place on a witch.   I am trying to find comfort in the prospect of whipping up a few nasty spells from time to time or flying around on a broomstick.

Lost in my reminiscing and envy of Jenna,  I didn't realize I had covered my hands and the soles of my bare and hideously dry and cracked feet with the black quick-drying goo.

Unscrewing the lid on the turps,  I wondered if my life would have been different with a smaller set of nostrils.   I remembered the girl in our class with the Ali MacGraw nose.   I tried to forget that she had married a millionaire and,  if the magazines are correct,  leads a glamorous life overseas.   As I crouched staple-like in a bucket,  glamorously soaking hands and feet in fragrant turps,  I decided her fate was unlikely to have had anything to do with the size of her nose.   It probably had more to do with her hands and feet.

© Elspeth McLean  (2001)



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