Letters

"I'm black, and I do hate my nose." Readers respond to stories on plastic surgery for African-Americans and Father's Day cards from juvy.


Salon Staff
June 19, 2003 10:43PM (UTC)

[Read "Black Like Me -- But Not Too Black," by Erin Aubry Kaplan.]

I have to disagree with Ms. Kaplan's assertion that the only reason a Black person would want to get a nose job is out of racial self-loathing. "Why would a black person interested in preserving his or her ethnic identity consider having a nose job at all?" The same reason a white person would do it, they don't like their nose. I am a Black man, and although I have not had plastic surgery and have no plans to do it at present, I hate my nose. Not because it is too Black, but because it is too bulbous. I want a nose like my Dad's, which is as classic and broad as they come. But what I have is a bulbous eyesore. The main reason I have never explored the possibility of rhinoplasty is that I have been afraid that I would get a "white" nose and look like Michael Jackson (or one of his incarnations at least). I am sure there are many others who feel the same way.

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If the fight for equality has any meaning, then people have to be allowed to exist beyond a single group identity -- as individual people who are tall or short or skinny or happy or smart or hate their nose. And it IS empowering that the medical profession realizes that a person can work toward a physical ideal that is ethnically Black, but different from what they were born with. Maybe you should talk to some people who are considering it before assuming what their motives are

-- Vate Powell

I'm so tired of black Americans being vilified for wanting to alter their looks as many other ethnic groups continue to do. In your latest article, it centers around the nose and how some blacks want a narrower nose that looks, God forbid, more European.

Some white ethnic groups get nose jobs as well to play down their ethnic origins.

Did it ever occur to the writer that some races and nonwhite ethnic groups, and not just the white one, also have naturally narrower noses as well. For example, Ethiopians and Somalians and many Asians.

It's the same with hair, since it's quite common that black Americans have their hair straightened. Most people say it's to have "white hair." Did it ever occur to anyone that Aborigines, Chinese, Japanese, Indians (both native and East) also have naturally straight hair as well.

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I just wish white people would stop thinking that they are at the top of the looks heap and stop thinking that everyone wants to look like them.

-- Robin Myers

Y'know, it's funny how the people who assert their racial pride the loudest, often come across as the most racist.

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Why is it when a white person relaxes curly hair or curls limp hair, shortens/lengthens/straightens their nose, tans their skin, plumps their lips; they are not considered "trying to be black"; yet as soon as a black person makes cosmetic changes, they're "trying to be white", or "denying their heritage?"

Could they simply be trying to look better? And if so, isn't that their right?

Caribbean people don't have this angst. We are aware that, except for those born in the darkest region of Africa, Black people are host to a mix of heritages.

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Where I come from the 'Didiers' originated from France. Two brothers who emigrated, owned separate plantations, and, in the natural manner of things proceeded to procreate.

Along the way we picked up Native Caribbean Indians (called 'Caribs'), East Indian, Chinese (Ma Wen), Spanish (Maria Conchita Rodriguez something or other) resulting in ... well, what we look like today. Most black people, if they're honest and/or go back into their roots, will find similar history. We're all mixed, yet black. In fact, Caucasian-looking people born in the Caribbean don't consider themselves to be, nor are considered, white. We leave that to the Anglo-Saxons.

African-Americans in particular should be aware that they have varying strains and types of ethnicity in their DNA, including Native American, European, or Asian.

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With such a mix, there's bound to be disproportion in features sometimes. That is nature.

If you want to fix your nose, that's your business. No one wants the Rock of Gibraltar on their face. If a feature is so distracting that it distorts people's perception of you, or you hate it, and it can be fixed, fix it. Period.

Erin mentioned uses for her "black" nose. If mine needed fixing, I'd do it. My heritage is not about how I look, it's WHO I AM. Me, I don't need flaring nostrils to make a point. When someone makes me mad, I get even.

-- Valda Didier

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I am horrified but not surprised that American plastic surgeons -- the used car dealers of medicine -- are now peddling yet another form of surgical ethnic cleansing, this time targeting African-Americans. How very 19th century of the "good" doctors.

-- Catherine A. Lugg

[Read "Man, Dad, You Call Yourself a Man?"]

Great article. I am sorry you missed the opportunity to honor Memorial Day with an article about soldiers who had been court-martialed for cowardice though. I am looking forward to more articles like this in the future. An article about Martin Luther King Jr.'s infidelities might be a good way to commemorate MLK Day. By the way, July 4 is coming up. That ought to be an easy one.

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-- David Prouty

Salon has chosen to "honor" Father's Day with a selection of shattered children who lacked adequate fathering. Salon "honored" Mother's Day with several articles in support of the choice to remain child-free. As an actual mother married to an actual father, I would just like to say, "Stop it." We can concentrate on our considerable ambivalence, regret and self-doubt with regard to parenthood on every other day of the year.

Although they are admittedly synthetic creations of the greeting-card industry, Mother's and Father's days have come to take on, at least in my mind, some actual relevance as opportunities to reflect on, and to celebrate, the experience of parenting and of having been parented. For Salon to choose those days to focus on rotten, abusive parents, or on those who would eschew parenting altogether, just feels to me like a slap in the face.

-- Monika Ullian

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