Maïté, aged 32 says :
« People often called me Cyrano. For foreigners who enquired about my nationality, the reaction was ‘Ah, you’re French – that explains the nose!’ I could never see the connection, but the die had been cast and on each occasion I felt helpless with pangs of shame and anger in my heart. For years I tried with difficulty to hide the nose which so weighed upon me at school, with my friends and among my relations. I had this technique to avoid showing my profile, to ensure that those to whom I spoke saw me only face-on.
Then one day, when I was 22, I decided to meet with a cosmetic surgeon. The consultation went like this: I sat in front of the lady—I was very timid, and above all extremely bothered by having to speak about a problem that I considered highly intimate. I was also aware of a rather cold reception, which made me even more ill at ease. I explained to her that I was there because my nose was an obstacle to my fulfillment in life. I emphasized that it was a psychological, rather than a physical obstacle. The woman asked me to show her my profile and then declared curtly, ‘I can assure you straight away that it is not a psychological problem—you have a real problem.’ On trembling legs, I stood up as she requested so that she could examine me more closely. With the greatest finesse imaginable, she told me that not only was my nose a protuberance of considerable size, but also that its tip resembled a pair of buttocks. I ended the interview by telling her that I needed to think about it all. Despite saying that, I knew that my feeling of anger would lead me to avoid going for cosmetic surgery, and so little by little I learned how to accept my face with its defects.
I lived ten more years pushing aside this obsession which would not let me live in peace. I think I managed it all quite well, and oddly the gratuitous and unpleasant remarks became more and more rare. I also learned to trivialize my problem by laughing at myself, probably as a protection but also rather as a form of therapy. In any case, I made a personal success of it—I’ll never know how that woman managed to be so tactless. Perhaps she was trying to provoke an angry reaction within me, in order to get me to accept myself as I was. Or perhaps her objective was related to her own agenda…whichever the case, I interpreted what she said as ‘You are seriously ugly, we cannot let you stay like that.’ I found that very injurious.
For the past ten years, I have not let my nose be an obstacle in my professional or social life—nor in my love life. I have looked around and have seen some very unhappy people, and reckon that I am not so badly off after all. I accepted myself better, felt more at ease with myself and, as a result, with others, too. But then, if the adult world can be difficult, for children and adolescents it can be far worse. I feel that this acceptance of oneself, in my case at least, was made easier because at the same time I moved into a more adult world.
Now that I am 32, I want my nose to be corrected by cosmetic surgery. That might seem a little surprising, having just read what I have written above. I returned to the problem of my nose—quite unexpectedly, I would add—and I suddenly realized that my acceptance of it over the past ten years was only half-hearted or superficial. I cannot explain why an otherwise forgotten problem would reappear without mentioning a road accident which happened last year and that could have been fatal for me. I think that my desire to change is in part linked to that accident.
Since then I have had the constant desire to benefit to the fullest from the luck I had to stay alive, and I am in search of the well-being and quality of life that can only exist if I place myself above everything. Beyond that, I am convinced that correcting my nose will bring new zest into my life and will contribute to give me greater confidence in all I do »
In doing this, Maïté is seeking reconciliation with her imago.
The case of Ismaël, aged 23 :
« Ever since I was small I have had a complex about my nose: because I am of African descent, I have flatter and wider nostrils than my European friends. It’s not because I’m not proud of what I am, but I have immediately felt different and developed an inferiority complex which has been with me for years. Up until now, whenever I speak to anyone, I do it from profile. At my age I should be going out and meeting people, but for me, the fewer I see, the better it is.
All this because I had a particular image of its shape and felt that it should look different.
So I decided that as soon as I had the means I would have an operation. Today it is done. I feel like I have had a cannonball removed from my face. »
- The nose is composed of two parts, the bone and the cartilage
- The bony part looks like a sort of awning made of bones which constitute the nose
- The cartilaginous part contributes to two structures, one which is a continuation of the bony awning (the triangular cartilage), and the other, which forms the tip of the nose
- This overall structure is supported by the septum, which separates the two nasal passages (nostrils).