Will Plastic Surgery Solve All My Problems?

Dear E. Jean: I’ve been ugly my whole life. But I’m not getting any younger, and I’d like to get married—or at least know how it feels to be loved before I die. I have small eyes, a big nose with a pronounced bump (I broke it last year surfing), a large chin (like Jay Leno), thin lips, and acne. I’ve had boyfriends, but only because I have a decent figure and I’m interesting enough to hold a conversation.

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I’ve built my whole life around being kind and doing good works. My family would lose their minds if I spent money on something so superficial as plastic surgery. (Especially since they’re counting on my financial support when they retire.) But I feel trapped by my face. I’m not improving with age. Would it be so bad to get a nose job and maybe a chin reduction in the hopes of finding love? I’m sick of hearing crap like, “Anyone who is worthy of you will love you for who you are.” It’s baloney! Shouldn’t I try to look passable and hope my personality will make up for the rest? Nobody falls in love with the ugly girl with the great personality—no matter how well she dresses or how funny she is.—Should This Surfer Girl Just Throw in the Towel and Join a Nunnery?

Miss Towel, My Turtledove: You’re right, it’s baloney. And if Auntie Eeee were running things, women would look however they wanted to look and never take any grief for it. But I’m not running things. You are. So let’s get this straight. Ugly chicks don’t surf. Absolute fact. You simply can’t be ugly. When you’re riding the edge of a monster wave, you could sport a nose like an eggbeater, and you’d still be the most dazzling girl on the beach.

And off the beach? In this era of plumped-up, pinched-back, sawed-off, lifted, frozen, look-alike females, there’s a distinct possibil­ity a woman with a broken nose might just attract more chaps. The simple awareness (and confidence) that you can attract a man is what attracts men.

So much for the hortatory portion of this correspondence. Shall we cut to the heart of the matter? I’m e-mailing to ask you to send me your photo. Before I turn in the column, I want to see what you look like. (Twenty minutes later…)

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Well, well, I’ll be damned. I’m looking at your picture, and I’m—baffled! You’re utterly charming! Built on the Pippa Middleton model but blond. I can also see you broke your nose. Now, it so happens that Cleopatra had one just like it and blew away half the rulers of the known world. But since the odds are you’re not going to date Mark Antony, and since you obviously lack confidence in your pretty face because of the break, see a talented plastic surgeon. But your guide here is “subtle”! As the designer Stefano Gabbana of Dolce & Gab­bana said: “I love a woman with a real nose. A nose is character.”

Good luck, darling! Men will fall and be trampled by other men trying to woo you as soon as you realize what a knockout you are!

This letter is from the E. Jean archive.

How Should I Handle the Reactions to My Plastic Surgery?

Dear E. Jean: Next month I’m getting the gift I’ve always wished for: plastic surgery to correct some bothersome facial imperfections. This means I’ll be out of work for a few weeks. Undoubtedly I’ll look much different when I return, so how do I keep my coworkers’ reactions, speculation, and gossip at bay? My office is filled with people who like to spill their guts about everything, while I remain very private. It’s really no one’s business what I do to my face, but how do I convey this fact in a professional way without affecting my relationships with my coworkers?—Tight-Lipped and All Business

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Miss Lipped, My Luv: Brace yourself, woman! Your coworkers will be so wowed by your new look, several will feel threatened, two will ask how much it cost, the nice lady in human resources will say you looked better before the surgery, another will hit on you, and these are just the reactions you’ll incite in the elevator the first 30 seconds of your return. Do you really believe you can keep your colleagues’ reactions “at bay”?

You have a choice: You can be the worst businesswoman in history and “remain very private” (which will be like throwing a lamb chop to a pack of Rottweilers), or you can smile at the fact that one of the reasons you’re getting surgery—whether you admit it or not—is to give yourself an advantage over the other players in this stress-inducing game we call Work. And the sooner you prepare everyone, the better. Here’s how:

1. On your last day at the office, just before you leave, tell everyone face-to-face: “I’m having a couple of cosmetic procedures done and will see you in two weeks. Wish me luck!” Again, gird your loins! Several people will say you don’t need it, others will advise you to have your breasts done because you’re “on the table anyway,” and so on. Respond to their comments with cheeky grace and keep moving out the door.

2. After the surgery, give the top gut-spillers at the office the honor of “gossiping” before anybody else. A day or two before returning to work, meet them for cocktails—their shrieks of joy or stunned silence will give you a sense of how the office will react. And if you choose your allies wisely, they will so thoroughly update everyone at the company that by the time you actually arrive at your desk, you’ll be old news.

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But the person’s “reaction” you absolutely must prepare for is…your own. Your whole head will hurt like hell for weeks. Judging by my friends’ surgeries, it will take months for your face to grow into its new beauty, so don’t waste all day looking in a mirror. And, most importantly, if you want something you can’t have, such as goddess-like perfection, don’t go under the knife. You’ll be racked with disappointment.

This letter is from the E. Jean archive.