What Elle Sees: On Body Issues

{Profile purposely blurred}
Normally, I fill this blog with all things beauty, style, tips, and the like. But today I wanted to share an experience....my experience (it's a lifestyle blog, after all) so I hope you'll indulge me for just a bit. This is very personal and very hard for me to talk about (hence the fact it took me a week). In fact, minus a couple of people, I don't think I've ever talked about this with anyone. I'm not doing this for sympathy or a pity party. I just want to share what happened and see if you've had similar experiences.

So here goes. I was in Target a week ago studying the different sulfate-free shampoos (a must for dyed hair, btw). I paid no attention at the old lady who walked down the aisle until she began studying me.

"You know, you'd be pretty if you had your nose fixed."

My heart stopped for a second as she said that. My mind began to race with thoughts: Was she talking to me? Do I cry? Scream? Should I say something back? Cuss her out? But she's old! I was brought up to respect my elders. But she was RUDE! Thanks, lady for reminding me what I've heard about nearly my WHOLE LIFE. Don't you think I'd do something about it if I could? Instead, her words translated into "You're ugly."

I decided not to say anything back because I (a)knew I'd start crying (b)didn't want to give her the satisfaction of knowing she'd hurt my feelings. So I walked away (shampoo-less) and acted like I didn't hear her. Instead, I fought back tears and thought of childhood:
{Left: Lil Elle, Age 4}
My family has always been great (I know some who are not so lucky) and has never really mentioned my nose.  I had no idea that my nose was big or that I was ugly until fifth grade. Two boys were talking about me on the school bus. "What do you think about Elle? Would you go with her?" "NO! She's got a big nose! A rocket nose!" And then the ENTIRE BUS began to chant "rocket nose." I wanted to die. I was THAT girl--the ugly girl with the big nose. Luckily, I wasn't taunted daily or anything, but I did hear about my nose over the years. I'd hear comments that I'd "grow into" my nose. Or asked if I broke my nose, fell, or had an accident or something (Not that I recall.).  Even on Picture Day, the photographers would consult each other as if I wasn't there: "Turn her head this way. Move her chin down so we can hide that nose. Have her look over here. No, no never a side profile!"

In my twenties, I decided to not let it bother me anymore. I embraced my nose. I ignored the stares and whispers. I let rude comments from drunken guys roll off my back. I was this way for years until that day at Target. So now a week later, the self-consciousness about my nose is still a tiny seed in the back of my mind. I wonder if I should've handled the situation differently (aka cuss her out!) and stuck up for myself. Maybe. Will I ever be confident and comfortable with my nose? Maybe. But would I get my nose fixed if I could afford it? Definitely.

Share your experiences with body issues. Have you experienced what I have? How did you handle the situation?


  1. You might've noticed I have a prominent nose too but the trick is not to let it rule your life. I think you have a lovely face that's not marred in any way by your nose.

  2. woah i can't believe someone would say that to you! how awful. i swear, some people have no sense of what is appropriate or not to say.

    i know what it's like to not like your nose, i very recently blogged about my own, which i have only recently gotten over disliking.

    you are gorgeous either way and don't need to fix anything, and by the way you have a super cute smile as well, i've noticed in the pictures of you on here. and great hair. so that lady can suck it!!!

  3. I'm sry that happened. I have the sae issue with my ears. They are normal sized but they stick out and was nicknamed dumbo since childhood. Since then I NEVER show my ears, so if I put my hair up, I put a head band over my head. I intend to get surgery one day but until then, I never let anyone's comments get to me bc hey, I didn't like my ears either and I don't have time to speak to rude people because they just don't care.

  4. Oh gosh. What a horrible lady! It's definitely not something to worry over. We all have parts of ourselves which we don't like. It's always great to embrace parts of you that you don't like as 'quirks' rather than worrying over them.

  5. I felt the same way my whole life about my ears. They stick out sideways, kinda like Will Smith. When I was in grade school I was called Dumbo Ears. Ever since then I refuse to pull back my hair because I can't bear the thought. Even for working out I wear my hair down which is pretty awkward with long hair. I know I would get my ears fixed if I could afford to as well. I think everyone has something they would change if they could but I definitely get how hard it can be when its not something easily fixed. I hope you have a great day.

  6. People suck. Can't believe she was so rude to you.
    My nickname in grade school was "lard". I was pudgy. That has stuck with me even though I wear a size 2 now. I have always had tremendous body image issues.

  7. I'm sorry for saying it, but that lady is a B*TCH for saying that you! I'm just amazed at how rude people can be, especially when they are not even being requested their opinion. I would have said "You'd be pretty too if you weren't so old and wrinkly!" Well...probably not, that would have been the low road, but sometimes people like that infuriate me and deserve a taste of their own medicine. I've gotten similar comments over the years about my weight. Things like "why did you let yourself go?" "you'd be so pretty if you shed a few pounds", etc... They think they are being helpful by pointing out the obvious, but instead they did nothing but make me feel worse. Honestly Elle, I never noticed your nose. I think you're beautiful just as you are. If someday you feel the desire to change it, do it because you want to, not because ignorant people keep telling you to.

  8. First of all, let me say, you handled it perfectly. You dignified yourself by not dignifying, or lending credibility, to this woman's rude comments, You kept the power. You have control of your dignity, and you only lose it and enter someone else's level when you return their rudeness.

    That being said, I most appreciate the idea that beauty is relative. Their are different types of beauty, and embracing our own, informs our character and gives us strength. For example, put Gwyneth next to Salma. Vastly different looking women. If you compare features, and fixate, one may look better over another, but that's not the whole picture. They almost CAN'T be compared. They need to be appreciated on their own, as a whole. Both are beautiful. It's harder to apply to ourselves, but the same holds true. We can't concentrate on one feature, but need to see the whole picture. And more than any physical thing, intangibles like confidence and genuineness, are what hold real appeal to the ones that matter.

    xx Noe

  9. I cant believe she said that to you! She must be insecure about herself and had to find someone to hurt their feelings. Dont worry about what she said, youre very pretty.

  10. I'm sure your nose is fine!! I can't believe that woman said that, some people need to mind their own business! Unique features like a larger nose make people beautiful!

  11. What a BITCH. I know you aren't looking for pity, but I'm so sorry that happened to you :(

    Excellent comeback: "Oh really? Maybe you should have your mouth fixed. Have someone sew it shut."

    Also? You are BEAUTIFUL.

  12. First of all - let me say this - YOU are beautiful! Without even seeing a picture of you, just reading your blog posts let me know what a beautiful person you are. On the inside, which is what matters!!! After seeing a picture, it is confirmed. What that lady said to you shows how UGLY SHE IS on the inside. You are beautiful both on the inside and out, but what really truly counts is what's on the inside. Getting a compliment about how kind/sweet/thoughtful you are is always better than the superficial kind. I think you handled it wonderfully, and you can rest assured that the lady has her own issues... none of which are your problem! Last time I checked there's no ONE definition of what's "Pretty" or "attractive".... Be glad you have such confidence and strength! I am proud of you for how you handled it :)

  13. I'm seriously amazed that that actually happened...what a witch. I think every single woman has things about her face and body that she hates (I hate my chest for example...HATE IT) and this is a product of the really hideously cruel way that girls are socialized with regards to appearance, etc. But at the end of day there is more to you than a nose and more to me than my chest and we have to just not let things like that, which, really, at the end of the day, are pretty meaningless, define us or our sense of self worth.

    xoxo ~ Courtney

    P.S. I also seriously think you have a great nose - it's prominent but why the hell is that such a bad thing? It makes you distinctly you.

  14. Yikes to that lady for making that comment- who does she think she is? Honestly, what the heck? I'm sure it was awful- I totally would have cried. She must have been trying to make herself feel better, but that doesn't make it right at all.

  15. It's so brave of you to write about this. You shouldn't listen to what anyone has to say. You're perfect and pretty as you are and changing any part of you physically will not change the wonderful person that you probably already are.

  16. You should have said
    "You would be really pretty ... if you kept your mouth shut."
    No class or manners.
    You girl have a PRETTY day with your wonderful nose.

  17. Elle, I literally gasped when I read the cruel words that this bitch said to you (I'm sorry, she IS). How dare she - not only are you physically beautiful (never ever would I have noticed anything about your nose - honest), but you are an absolutely lovely person. I don't know what this woman thought she would gain by saying something so cruel to a complete and total stranger.
    I'm so sorry that you had to deal with this for so long - and that the hateful comment of a stranger brought you back to painful childhood memories. I'm proud of you for handling it with class and dignity (I don't know what I would have done, but it probably would not have been very lady-like). You're lovely, my dear and this was a very brave post!

  18. Wow what a horrible old lady! I dont think theres anything wrong with your nose, everyone is different, we all come in different shapes and sizes....people just seem to like to put other people down to make themselves feel better, surprised it came from an old lady though! You handled it very well good on you :)

    P.S. I have no idea what kind of Yoga it was I didnt even know there was different kinds Im such a noob lol xx

  19. everyone has that one thing that bothers them about their appearance and were teased about when young. i think embracing it is the way to go - sometimes our imperfections are what make us unique and beautiful.

  20. Elle you are soooooo beautiful and or differences is what makes us unique. So hold your head up pretty girl you are beautiful just the way you are.


  21. Oh my God. Elle, I seldom comment here even though I read your blog regularly. I just had to post and tell you how gorgeous I think you are. In your "grown up" picture and the "kiddie" picture is even cuter. You may not have an "average" nose but don't ever let it make you think that it makes you ugly. The ones that look for others faults are only trying to deflect from their own. You're gorgeous and however your nose may be, it's a part of you and it makes you you.

  22. Why do old people think they can just say whatever they want and no one can say anything back? I would've let her have it. But at the end of the day, you can always "fix" things with a little plastic surgery, but you can't fix an ugly heart.

  23. You gave me chills! How brave and honest of you to write this Elle. I've had similar experiences in my life. I never knew I had a big nose until I was 14...I had moved and changed schools, I was the new girl. The first week in art class some boys started to make fun of me and my nose. All throughout high school that my nickname was nose...I was tormented. Those same bullies now suddenly 20 years later, thanks to Facebook {I never would have anything to do with them otherwise} think I'm gorgeous. Go figure.

    Anyway, I also had another experience a few years ago. I was at a hockey game sitting in the audience and these guys were "checking me out" I guess you could say. And then all of a sudden I hear one of them say ah no, she has a big nose. I was devastated and shrunk into my seat. I literally wanted to die but I had to sit in my seat the entire game and deal with the embarrassment.

    I don't think I would ever have my nose fixed...I don't know why since it's been such an issue at different times in my life, mostly in high school. I guess because now I've learned to live with it and maybe even like it a bit. It's mine after all. I really don't notice it anymore unless it's so rudely brought to my attention.

    I hope you are able to come to accept it and your beauty one day, sweetie. Because you are truly beautiful. Don't ever let a rude person take that away from you.


  24. Elle, this post just hurts to read. Who in the hell did that lady think she was? Who says things like that? A very unhappy person, I bet. She as obviously the one who had problems. A happy, well-adjusted person wouldn't do that.

    I have never noticed your nose in any picture you have ever posted. You do however, have an incredible smile that lights up your whole face in your pictures.


  25. I have always thought you were beautiful. When we (I) were kids I always looked up to you and thought you were the prettiest girl I knew. I know people can be mean, but really, we are probably the hardest on ourselves. Who knows what that lady had gone through in her looong life to get to the point to find it okay to 1) judge a person like that or 2) say that to somebody, but I'm sure she has a ton more insecurities than either of us do.

  26. Thank you for sharing such a personal post. I've always disliked my nose and wish it was more like my mother's nose. I remember pinching it once with a clothespin when I was a child!

    Could I change it now? Possibly. But I have a great husband and am much more confident (it's taken a while to get there). Every person should follow the road that helps her feel more beautiful (though not to the extreme a la Heidi Montag). It all begins with being happy with ourselves, however we find out how to do that!

    Chic 'n Cheap Living

  27. i cannot believe the audacity of that lady. i admire you for not doing what i probably would have done: flung a retort right back into her face.

    i think everyone has little things they are self-conscious about, or were teased about in their childhood. the key is to embrace them & live your life, knowing that every little feature doesn't define who you are as a person.

  28. i can't believe some stranger had the gall to do that. from this experience remember - misery loves company. this woman is probably lonely, bitter and angry about something. she wants others to feel pain and anger with her so she inflicts it on anyone. thank god you're not her daughter and remember - ugliness like that is forever. a joyful smile, a good attitude and a bright face are beautiful, whether you love the nose on that face or not.

    and i would have taken the bitch down every which way. my sharp and sarcastic tongue is handy when it needs to be.

  29. I completely know how you feel, I have a pretty big nose too (it runs in the family) and was tortured because my looks growing up, and it wasn't limited to my nose. I think you handled it well, I probably would've started crying. I think you're beautiful, so if you see that old bitty again tell her to call me and I'll give her a talking too. People are unbelievable, she probably was just jealous of you...

  30. this is too sad. I was born with a congenital birth defect that affects my hands, I was tormented as a child but I have grown up to lead a beautiful blessed life.

    You should link up with us for our anti bullying movement. Check out my blog for the link.

  31. Um, you're gorgeous! You should have told her, "Thanks, I bet you'd be pretty, too, if you were forty years younger."

  32. Thanks for sharing it.. this real helped me....

  33. You are (and always have been) way too damn pretty to worry about your large side of the average bell curve nose. Your nose draws attention to your very bright, generally smiling eyes, which are easily your best feature.

  34. Thank you, sweet anonymous :)
    If you only knew...

  35. If it makes you feel any better... I used to be runt of the "Me Chinese, me eat rice..." song every once in awhile... that was also accompanied by the pressing of the nose. I always thought people looked silly trying to press on their nose to flatten it in order to illustrate Asian folks... Anyways, I always told my mom that I wanted a nose job so I could have a "white person's nose". Also, before I went to bed... I would always pull on my nose to maybe elongate it. Didn't work. My nose seems to work out well when I'm doing Muay Thai. My nose gets punched, wrestled around with, and scraped. So flat and squishy sustains all conditions! That was all beside the point. I know how you feel though and nothing will change the fact that you're AWESOME! Karma will catch up to the woman and her nose will just fall off with older age.

  36. I think you're very pretty and I wouldn't have even noticed your nose if you hadn't mentioned it!!


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