July 21, 2023

Whose Nose Is It, Anyway?

Imagine a state government that decides to outlaw rhinoplasty and septoplasty. In other words - no nose jobs. They are under the influence of a small but vocal religious sect that opposes cosmetic surgery as being against God's will. "Your face is sacred," they insist.

Of course, it's not just about imposing one group's religious beliefs on the larger population. The government also sees changed noses as a way to evade facial recognition software and other surveillance/identification systems.

People who need nose surgery because they have breathing problems are dismissed as a tiny, meaningless minority. People whose noses are damaged in accidents or by violence are told that it's "God's will," and they should learn to love the new look.

Plastic surgeons, protesting the loss of livelihood, are vilified as money-grubbing demons who mutilate people for profit. People with crooked noses who travel to a state where rhinoplasty is still legal are reported to authorities and their medical records are seized. People with naturally small, straight noses are viewed with suspicion by religious zealots who harass them in public and send death threats to their homes. Protestors outside plastic surgeons' offices carry signs with graphic photos of bloody, swollen noses, and chant at everyone entering the office: "Don't break your nose! Don't break your nose!"

A couple of politicians get publicity for themselves by blocking state highway funding as a protest against government agencies that allow employees to use paid sick leave for nose surgery. The unrepaired roads contribute to an increase in traffic accidents - and more damaged noses. People who get out-of-state nose jobs are afraid to be seen with bandages on their faces, so they stay indoors or wear disguises.

People unhappy with their big, crooked noses are labeled as having "facial dysmorphic disorder" and are told they need counseling to accept themselves as they are. Parents who allow teenagers to get nose jobs are investigated by Child Protective Services. Some people go to underground practitioners who may or may not be safe. Some people become so desperate they try to fix their noses themselves, using steak knives and crochet hooks. Some get permanent brain damage, some bleed to death. Anyone with a nosebleed is suspected of having had an illegal nose job.

Celebrities who had nose jobs back when it was legal write books about their experiences; a few are invited to testify before Congress.


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