Not Something to Sniff At

I suppose I should weigh in on this Jewish Press article that has so many people in a tizzy. (Thanks Mother for alerting me; thanks O and everyone else for producing it.)

The article, in brief, is about a mother of a short-term learner who went to an event for hopeful wives of long-term learners, and was affronted by how little glitz she saw in the room. The aidels were barely wearing makeup, most had not chemically straightened their hair, and none seemed to have a nose job or stomach staple. Really, how did they expect to get married?

She goes on to describe how her life changed once she put her own proboscis under the knife, including her switch from single to married status.

Well, you can imagine the resultant horror among the JP readership. She lopped off her nose? Our European ancestors, in the alte heim, were persecuted for that nose! And she just ditches it because it became inconvenient?  The very idea!

Moreover, that nose she discards so carelessly was once considered quite regal. It was good enough for Caesar. It was good enough for Augustus and Octavius. It was even good enough for Caligula, who had no compunctions about taking a knife—or even a sword—to anything he didn’t like. And he left his nose untouched, thank you very much.

Caligula's Schnozz

Caligula's Sniffer

But it’s the betrayal that bothers me the most. I don’t know how you feel about it, but my nose has been with me since birth, through thick and thin. It’s the first thing to greet me when I gaze into the mirror in the morning. It has always let me know when my mother was baking, so that I could sneak into the kitchen for a sample. It warned me when the water in camp was sulfuric. It keeps tabs on the milk in the fridge, alerts me when the veggies I forgot in the crisper pass over to the other side, and lets me know when someone has made a fresh pot of coffee in the office.

We’ve grown from these experiences together (although not always at matching rates). I consider my nose an old friend. What kind of person is so cavalier about excising such a loyal companion? If this is how easily she lops off a friend who has been at her side (so to speak) for her entire life, imagine how she treats friends of lesser duration when they become inconvenient. I’m so relieved we didn’t go to school together.

Besides, there is more to a nose than its mere physiognomy. How it is treated, presented, and carried, indeed, the very attitude of its bearer toward it, will create the overall effect of the nose much more than its actual topography. A charming, graceful, feminine woman can carry off a beak of less delicacy than herself. The trick is not to walk around with your head hanging in shame, as if your nose is weighing your face down. Carry it with pride! Pride for your heritage, pride for its regal cast, and pride because it’s a part of you—and you’re worth being proud of. However, I will concede, that if a woman is still single at 23 she should probably go to charm school to learn a more demur carriage and delicate bearing.

Cleopatra's Beak

Cleopatra's Beak

Another technique is to remove the focus from your nose entirely by being so lively and flirtatious that nobody can spare the time to focus on your schnozz. There is an ancient Egyptian saying: “She who can flirt with the pros can rock any nose.” It dates back to Cleopatra, who, according to legend, was well endowed in the nasal way. And yet she was a talented seductress, seducing no less than J. Caesar himself, who had no shortage of beautiful women chasing him.

How did she do that? Legend relates that when Caesar came to town, Cleo didn’t wait for an invitation. She had herself rolled into a rug and delivered to Julius as a gift. When he unrolled the rug, out she popped, batting her eyelashes, patting down her hair, and asking to hear in person about how he tamed those Gauls.

I recommend that the self-consciously benosed maidel try something similar for her next date. Instead of shyly sidling nose-first into the dining room where your date is making polite small-talk with your parents, wrap yourself in the living room rug and roll in with a bang! Leap out and announce, “I’m he-ere!” Ask him something flattering and personal. Start the date like this and do you think he’ll even glance at your nose for a second? I sincerely doubt it.

JP's unairbrushed schnozz

JP's unairbrushed schnozz

There is one more non-surgical treatment for an unbeautiful nose. Think of the many famous people who have had unartistic sniffers. Due to rhinophyma, JP Morgan’s nasal organ was a different shape and color every day. Yet he was well beloved by his two wives, four children, and the ever-insolvent US government. And consider one of the more famous big schnozzes of the silver screen: Barbra Streisand. Although her nose was the subject of public criticism, she married twice. From this we can derive a very simple solution to the nosily impaired—one simple step that will have men beating a path to your door: become rich and famous. Because, it is well known, you cannot be both rich and ugly at the same time.

And that is the real way to solve the shidduch crisis.

Beautiful Barb as God Bequeathed Her

Beautiful Barb as God Bequeathed Her


15 thoughts on “Not Something to Sniff At

  1. Barbara Streisand, supposedly, inquired about getting her nose redone, but was told that it would change her magnificent voice.

    That’s what it comes down to – pride. I posted about this article today as well, and what this lady does not realize that it is all about how one carries oneself, not what one looks like.

  2. I too read the column. I was appalled at the idea that young
    single girls are now parading before prospective m-i-ls.
    Is there no dignity left for our bas yiroels? First it is the photo requirement, and now this???? What will be the next “brilliant” idea? After I read it though, I thought to myself..hmm… in another life this might be very suited for bad4. Learning now and hopes to move on to a Phd.. Must be a bright young man. Halberstam though I believe is a chassidic name. I’m not sure that you are willing to give up those knaidlach on Pesach. Frankly though, in today’s age, rhinoplasty is very common. It has become as common as braces for the teeth. I myself found the whole meeting very offensive.

  3. Just look at Cyrano- he managed to get the girl even though he was nasally endowed.

    Bad4, great post in response to a terrible article. I laughed so hard I had to share it with the rest of my family.

  4. imo the fact that we’re even discussing how made-up a young woman should or shouldn’t be on a date completely misses the point and my thoughts surpass the word-count for replies. I’m glad we’re able to laugh about it over here. given how brainless her article was I’d suggest that halberstam opted for the wrong surgical procedure.

    you’re invited to read it over here.

  5. As a mother (okay, if a 14 yr old but he’ll be in shidduchim eventually) I think a nose job is dishonest. Wouldn’t you prefer to see her real genetics? After all, that’s what she’s going to pass on to the kids. (For the record, I don’t think looks should be a deal breaker. I just think they shouldn’t be misrepresented.)

  6. Miriam:

    As appalled as I am by the idea of a girl feeling she needs cosmetic surgery in order to get married, by your logic, dating girls should not be allowed to wear mascara, diet, or curl/straighten their hair. How will the boy know what kind of genes she will pass on – skimpy lashes, chubbiness, or limp/curly hair?

  7. Miriam P does make a good point.

    Random Shadchan – things that can be entirely controlled through grooming, make up, and healthy diet/exercise habits are not something that I would consider a betrayal of a person’s true genetics. I would tend to think that most guys know by now that girls wear make up and do SOMETHING to their hair, whatever their natural hair looks like. Anyone can reasonably maintain a healthy weight and not be obese, but they can’t hide a particular body build.

    I’ve been working on a new sci-fi story related to this sort of thing for a while now, and the recent article has spurred my imagination, so watch for it to be posted soonish.

  8. What about crooked teeth? Those are caused by genes and can’t be controlled by good habits, yet no one, I mean no one, says that Jewish children shouldn’t undergo orthodontia.

  9. Her overall concern, though, was about (to her) lack of noticeable make-up and “limp” hair (maybe the limp hair was due to chemical straightening/extreme blow drying!), not specifically noses or other facial features. I think, because of her personal experience, she places emphasis on possibility of plastic surgery.
    Also, what the author doesn’t seem to realize is that make-up and hair styles go through various trends and the bright blue eyeshadow and pink cheeks are not “in” anymore. This isn’t the 1980’s anymore, and hasn’t been for awhile…maybe it’s more her lack of fashion sense than the girls’….

  10. Pingback: Two-in-One Package | Bad for Shidduchim

  11. I think it’s interesting that the original article sees a huge pack of unmarried girls and instead of thinking “well maybe they should consider my son even though he’s not going to be in learning forever” she just jumps straight to cosmetic surgery. Being pretty is more important than altering your rather high standards apparently.

  12. Pingback: Fixing Cleopatra’s Nose | בין דין לדין

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