If I had a dollar for every Asian girl I know who loves her nose, I’d have a couple dollars. If you excluded the ones who have had rhinoplasty, I’d have zilch. Most of the time the culture you come from dictates your standards of beauty, whether that’s thin or round, short or tall, pale or dark. But when it comes to noses, only one universal standard seems to apply. Small and pointy prevails.
Which is difficult because most people around the world don’t have a nose as such, so they’re always coming up with innovations to change them. I bet nose jobs are one of the top cosmetic procedures in any country. Nose-contouring via photoshop or makeup also gets used on celebrities from all over, and you see it everywhere from the Bare Minerals counter at the mall to the Home Shopping Network. That pale line of makeup painted down the middle of women’s faces–in photos it can be hard to discern, but in real life only blends in if you’re standing next to a family of skunks.
Thanks to my dad, I learned another trick for improving my nose that’s completely free: nose-pulling. The idea was that if you squeezed your nose and lightly pulled down enough, it would eventually hold the shape you wanted it to take. I learned early, when I was around ten, and for several years got into the habit of nose pulling for at least ten minutes a day, while watching TV. Sometimes I used a clothespin I kept under the bed, for hands-free results.
I stopped making it a habit in middle school. I was sitting on my desk one day in math class while my friend sat below me, with a primo view up my nose.
“Whoa, your nose is so cool! It has creases underneath!”
Apparently my hard work had stuck. The sides are squashed down, and there’s a permanent fold inside each of my nostrils. Since then, I’ve let up on the pulling. I wouldn’t have even remembered this habit if it wasn’t for a personal essay I read in grad school (which I can’t locate anymore). In it, a black girl in the 50s wrote about her body image, watching her mothers and aunts smash their hair in between two red hot irons, and tugging at her nose per their instructions. Universal indeed.