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Monday, August 06, 2007

Appeasing the vanity

Though I usually forget about it, seeing a picture of myself reminds me of it like a smack in the face. My nose has been spotted for the past ten years, marked by my third nose ring, an ill-advised silver stud that tattooed its tarnish into my right nostril. I am paralyzingly self-conscious about it when I think of it. I believe it looks like rot on my skin.

And for years, my dad has supported me (yet solidifying the insecurity) by saying he'll pay for me to have it removed. For some reason, I finally took the steps this summer to have it done.

It's appallingly expensive, how much laser procedures cost. I finally found a place that is less pricey than others I researched, but still run by doctors. It's located on the Gold Coast in downtown Chicago, a swank clinic led by the most bosomy, golden-skinned receptionists I've ever seen. The whole office is posh, and I felt a smidge out of place there in my cut-off jean shorts and dirty tennis shoes.

Mostly, though, I didn't care. I was paying for my own procedures, just like the glossy, manicured ladies who sat next to me, waiting, on the velvet couches. I don't have time anymore, to feel self-conscious. If I really cared about what others think of my appearance, I would have to spend more time applying makeup and deciding what uncomfortable shoes to wear.

That might not appear true, however, considering I'm getting a sort of cosmetic surgery. However, a big grey spot seems different than sun spots on my cheeks, or even a pimple. It just looks unnatural. And I'm getting sick of people saying, "um . . . you have something on your nose," or even (and I'm not even lying, this has actually happened multiple times) licking their finger and trying to rub the spot off themselves. (Obviously, those people were strangers, who did not know what the spot was--which is even more disturbing.)

So I was photographed in a "pre" shot, by an employee who cheerfully told me about her own breast implants, done eleven years ago, then ushered to a cubicle with the machinery. The door opened, and I thought another patient was passing by, but it was actually the nurse. She was a blonde goddess, with flawless skin and fabulous, indubitably silicone, cleavage. She bent over me with the laser gun, sting, sting, sting, my right eye emptied a waterfall onto my cheek, and less than five minutes later, she put away her tool and dispensed some skin care advice. For that whole experience, I paid $150. (And there's even no guarantee the laser will break up the spot and make it disappear, since the doctor who consulted on me has only ever done ink tattoos. There's no precedent for silver tarnish tattoos.)

I know, I know, I know about the dangers of sun damage, but I just can't get myself all worked up over her words of doom about "age spots." I kind of don't care. I have more angst over my eye wrinkles right now. I'm not going to wrap myself up like a mummy every summer. I don't mind the aging process (in some ways!). I feel like it's a slippery slope to start worrying about those kinds of things, anyway. Millions of dollars later, and hours spent in close examination at the mirror, I'm still going to continue to get older, and my body will show that off. It's nice to realize I'm not kowtowing any longer to society's pressure to maintain youthful perfection. So much less to worry about.

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