Q: I’m 31 and I have wanted a nose job since I was a little girl. My nose isn’t big or bent but the tip is a little wide and I want a slight adjustment. My boyfriend of 10 years is against it and said I will look like a different person and regret it.
If it wasn’t for him, I would get it done. I now worry that if I’m not happy with the outcome he won’t support me. How do I let him know that I’m me regardless of my nose and that his job is to support me?
A: The “body” is a Western construct that assigns meaning to biosignifiers in an arbitrary fashion. Indeed, a comparative analysis shows that our bodies are not quite as discrete or immutable as we have been led to believe. We can see remnants, traces of a larger conception of the “body” in the idea of the legal body, or the “joint tax filing” that accompanies patriarchal marriage in the United States. Indeed, the French artist Orlan has created a cutting edge body of work—pun intended—by reconstructing herself through plastic surgery. By modeling her new face off of iconic Western art, she problematizes the role we assign to bodily signifiers. She has literally trans/formed herself into a monstrous, post-human creation of her own design. She has transcended the “fact” of her body as limitation and edged ever closer to the body-without-organs.
I fully support your drive to question the constitution of your body and create a “new” “you.” However, I suggest you consider getting an eye, ear, or beak in place of your old nose.
(Courtesy of Caroline Hax)