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A Nose Dive for Nose Jobs

As standards of beauty shift, rhinoplasty—once a rite of passage for Jewish teens—declines in popularity

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A Bridge Too Far

How one woman lived to regret her nose job

For generations, Jewish girls from well-off families underwent a special rite of passage, one that fell somewhere between their bat mitzvahs and their weddings: their nose jobs. But according to a set of recent statistics, that may be changing: Far fewer nose jobs are being performed than just a decade ago—in what may reflect shifting standards of beauty and perhaps even Jews’ diminishing dissatisfaction with what they see in the mirror.

In 2011, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 37 percent fewer Americans got nose jobs than in 2000. The economy surely played some role: Surgical cosmetic procedures across the board declined by 17 percent during that period, coinciding with the economic downturn, which left people with less money to spend on nonessential surgery. But rhinoplasty, or “nose reshaping,” saw one of the sharpest drops among all procedures, from 389,000 in 2000 to 244,000 in 2011.

The plastic surgeons’ group doesn’t keep tabs on the religion of patients undergoing cosmetic surgery, although it does collect some data about certain minority groups. For instance, plastic surgery in general has been gaining in popularity among Hispanics, growing 8 percent from 2010 to 2011, and rhinoplasty in particular has been gaining ground among Asian Americans—it’s now the most common cosmetic surgical procedure in that demographic group. If the total number of nose jobs in America is rapidly declining, while their popularity rises among certain non-Jewish groups, one likely conclusion is that rhinoplasty is declining among Jews.

“There are other groups kind of taking the place of what Jews did a generation ago or two generations ago,” said Ira Papel, a facial plastic surgeon in Baltimore.

Indeed, anecdotal evidence seems to confirm that nose jobs are not the status symbol they once were among Jews. “It was like a rite of passage, and it’s not that anymore,” said Babak Azizzadeh, a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, who says he no longer sees Jewish parents pushing their teenage children to get rhinoplasty the way they used to.

“It seems likely that the number of Jewish nose jobs has gone down,” said Emory University physician and anthropologist Melvin Konner, author of The Jewish Body. “It’s fair to say that this was once a lot more routine for Jewish girls than it is now.”

Konner goes on to suggest a reason behind the changing attitude toward nose jobs: “I think it’s because of increased ethnic pride and a decreased desire to stop looking Jewish and blend in,” he said, “which is why rhinoplasty was invented.”

***

By the 1920s, surgeons recognized “that Jews and other ethnic Americans represented a large potential market for nasal plastic surgery and were making a move to claim it,” historian Beth Haiken wrote in her 1998 book Venus Envy: A History of Cosmetic Surgery. In 1936, Haiken wrote, pioneering plastic surgeon Vilray Blair, chief of that specialty at Washington University in St. Louis, noted that “change in the shape of the pronounced Jewish nose may be sought for either social or business reasons.”

“It was Jews, but it was also Italians and Greeks,” who sought to change the shape of their noses, Haiken told me. “There was a lot of anti-immigration sentiment and a lot of anti-Semitism once the immigration laws changed.”

Few patients have ever walked into a plastic surgeon’s office and said explicitly that they wanted to look less Jewish or Italian or Greek, though, Haiken said: “They say, ‘I want to look pretty.’ ”

In 2001, Beth Preminger, a Cornell medical student who’s now a plastic surgeon in New York, wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association that “both in the past and in the present day, cosmetic surgeons have been sought by patients wishing to alter features thought to separate them from the mainstream.”

These days, though, the so-called mainstream is becoming less and less mainstream. New 2011 Census data show that for the first time last year, a majority of U.S. children under a year old were members of racial or ethnic minorities.

“The WASPs are becoming a minority,” said filmmaker Gail Kirschenbaum—and that means that old standards of beauty are changing. “It’s not about trying to have the WASPy nose anymore. What is acceptable and considered beautiful is different now.”

Kirschenbaum made the 2007 short film My Nose about her mother schlepping her to plastic surgeons when she was 15 to talk about getting a nose job, which Kirschenbaum resisted. When she was growing up in New York the ‘60s and ‘70s, she says, high-school and college yearbooks were like collections of before-and-after photos for nose jobs—but not anymore. (My own daughter is 15 now, growing up in generally affluent Bethesda, Md., but I’ve never heard her, or any of her Jewish high-school-aged friends, talk about nose jobs.)

Haiken agrees with Kirschenbaum’s observations about what’s considered beautiful these days. When Haiken was working on Venus Envy, she perused women’s magazines from the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s; comparing them to women’s magazines today, she noted a definite increase in the diversity of women’s images: “You see Asian models, you see African-American models. You never used to at all.” However, Haiken pointed out, as far as fashion models go, “you don’t see a lot of hooked noses, thick lower lips—the kind of features that are caricatures for Jews.”

In Beverly Hills, Azizzadeh, the plastic surgeon, says that young Jews “are waiting a longer period of time” to get nose jobs, “and some may elect not to do it.” (Azizzadeh, a Persian Jew who attended Beverly Hills High, which he calls “the mecca of rhinoplasty,” did undergo the procedure himself—although the 41-year-old put it off until after he broke his nose at age 24.)

And when Azizzadeh does perform nose jobs, he finds that patients’ reasons for undergoing the operation have changed in a significant way: More than half of the nose jobs he performs are revisions to restore more character, more ethnicity, if you will. Patients no longer come in asking for the cookie-cutter scooped bridge and upturned nose that plastic surgeons were churning out in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, he says.

“The ideal beauty can be anybody,” Azizzadeh said. “I think people actually don’t want to assimilate as much.” On his practice’s website, he specifically talks about how Jewish patients are often concerned with “keeping their ethnic identity intact.”

But they still want to look pretty, says Miami plastic surgeon Michael Salzhauer, an Orthodox Jew who garnered media attention this spring for his efforts to market rhinoplasty to Jews. He’s not out to make them look less Jewish, says Salzhauer, 40, who got a nose job and chin implant at 30, by then married with children: “It’s mainly about self-esteem. Self-confidence is the most attractive trait a person can have.”

Salzhauer produced a music video called “Jewcan Sam”—a reference to Froot Loops cereal’s large-beaked Toucan Sam. The young man is played by Doug Staiman, lead singer of the Groggers, a self-described “Jewish pop, punk band with a comic twist” based in New York. In the video, the band sings: “She says, ‘You’ve got a beak like Jewcan Sam. I only go with guys with perfect upturned noses … I will love you till forever if you get your nose circumcised.’ ” Staiman’s character does get the operation—although he still doesn’t get the girl, because she then tells him that she only dates football players.

In exchange for making the video, Salzhauer offered rhinoplasty to all four Groggers, all men, but only Staiman took him up on it.

Salzhauer, or “Dr. Schnoz,” as the Miami Herald calls him, has expanded his offer of free nose jobs to include cash-strapped Orthodox singles referred by their local matchmaker.

The fact that Salzhauer is getting any takers reflects changing attitudes about such procedures in the Orthodox community. In the past, said Baltimore plastic surgeon Papel, among the Orthodox, “cosmetic surgery was a no-no. Now you have the rabbis saying, ‘No, it’s OK if it will help your self-esteem, if it will help you get a spouse.’ ” While more secular Jews tend to come to him for eyelid lifts, chin implants, and Botox injections, his Orthodox patients mainly want nose jobs, Papel says.

So far, Salzhauer has operated on one “Operation Chuppah” patient and has three more scheduled. Although press coverage of Salzhauer’s rhinoplasty “scholarships” made it sound like only women were eligible, one of those first four recipients is a man—the same proportion of male to female rhinoplasty patients nationwide. “It’s a universal problem,” Salzhauer says of the impact noses can have on self-confidence. While rhinoplasty has fallen dramatically overall, though, the gender gap has widened: From 2000 to 2011, nose jobs dropped 59 percent among men but only 24 percent among women, according to the plastic surgeons’ society.

Women and men, Jews as well as gentiles who say people think they’re Jewish, have emailed Salzhauer in search of free nose jobs, he says. Even if they meet all his other criteria, he notes, “there’s a bunch where I’ve said, ‘You’re beautiful, and you don’t need rhinoplasty.’ ”

Konner is philosophical about the matter: “You have this done because you want to be more beautiful, but who sets the standard on what beauty is?”

***

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It’s wonderful that people are becoming more open to more diverse conceptions of beauty. But not mentioned in this story: stereotypical “Jewish” features  are changing through intermarriage (and conversion, and adoption). I suspect this is contributing to the decline in surgery.

melissainmadrid says:

 This is exactly what I was thinking.  It may be less about changing attitudes and more about changing DNA.

rocky2345 says:

The share of secular Jews is also declining in the population. When one of the parents is not Jewish, the likelihood of an undesirable nose declines. I don’t think Hasidic Jews were ever into nose jobs. Zac Efron (paternal Jewish grandfather) is certainly not in need of a nose job.

I think the woman in the picture is emblematic of beauty as she is.  Women and men who feel that rhinoplasty/hair implants/tucks and lifts-strictly for cosmetic reasons could stand some inner examination.  Certainly, to repair injuries/issues/and etc.-use technology to the fullest.  My question is, why would I pursue a person for a mate who didn’t or wouldn’t like me as I am?  Sure, I have a responsibility to lose weight, improve my education, do and be better with the factors I have control over.  My nose, hairline and the fact that I went grey pretty early are how I was created.

gwhepner says:

EYSHET HAYYIL ON THE NOSE

 

They told her that it
was because

she had a quite
enormous schnoz

which looked so Jewish
and thus nasty

that she would need a
rhinoplasty.

 

This surgery would save
her life,

as she thought, walking
down the aisle,

becoming, as a Jewish
wife,

cosmetically an eyshet
hayyil.

 

Although it’s said that
all the yofi

in the world is merely hevel,

no man will ask a girl
for coffee

if her nose looks
medieval.

 

Before nose therapy
would fix her

no Jewboy thought she
was a shiksa,

which all girls now
hope to resemble

when with Jewboys they
assemble.

 

Although yirat
Hashem is nice,

a nose job, she found
out, is nicer,

which is why she paid
the price

to be a  nose self-sacrificer.

 

The price is clearly
always right

for those who think eyshet
hayyil

will never manage to
excite

a man without a nose
denial.

 

ljhomes says:

Yikes, that photo looks like a profile of shiksa Helen Hunt!  My conclusion is that rhinoplasties among Jewish (mostly girls) has declined in direct proportion to the intermarriage rate… the new breeding has caused shrinkage of the once prominent proboscis to the point where the new kids on the block are now comfortable with their generic genetic olfactory tools!

hepstein says:

My mother, a dress designer by profession,  got a nose job in Prague shortly after the Nazi invasion because (in her account) she wanted to be able to continuing going  to the movies and was sure that her nose gave her away! I wrote about that spectacularly naive episode in Where She Came From: A Daughter’s Search for her Mother’s History, along with other examples of her internalized anti-semitism of the time. In later life in NYC, she (and I) realized just how strongly political,  social and cultural context can affect one’s self-esteem as well as self-perception.

I grew up in affluent Larchmont, NY, graduated in 1966 from Mamaroneck high school where my classes had  a large percentage of Jews, and did not once hear anyone talk about a nose job (and I am female).   Perhaps you are describing a social phenomenon in California; I don’t think it happened in Westchester County, N.Y.

karenlt says:

Love the poem - hysterical!

gwhepner says:

Glad you liked the poem. I also wrote an eshet hayyil poem that is, I think,more faithful to the original, having been inspired by my wife Linda, whose chopped liver is always on the nose:

VALOR WOMAN

 

 

 

Fountains with the river mingle,

with the ocean mingle rivers,

but with breath you breathe I tingle

as I see you chopping livers

for my Friday evening fest,

mixing them with eggs and onions,

when the Sabbath from the west

enters to give rest to minions.

 

When the mountains try to kiss

heavens they can’t reach the summit,

but with you I never miss

eshet hayil peaks. I hum it

after sunlight disappears

and the angels take its place;

she who hears me sing it cheers

cherubim who join her space.

 

 

Inspired
by Shelley’s “Love’s Philosophy”

 

The
fountains mingle with the river,

And the rivers with the ocean;

The winds of heaven mix forever

With a sweet emotion;

Nothing in the world is single;

All things by a law divine

In another’s being mingle–

Why not I with thine?

See, the mountains kiss high heaven,

And the waves clasp one another;

No sister flower could be forgiven

If it disdained its brother;

And the sunlight clasps the earth,

And the moonbeams kiss the sea;–

What are all these kissings worth,

If thou kiss not me?

 

gwhepner@yahoo.com

ljhomes says:

Circa 1963, MAD Magazine included a tear-out 45RPM insert of “Nose Job.” 
It went something like this:
 
She got a nose job, she got a nose job.
It’s now turned up instead of hangin’ down
She got a nose job, she got a nose job.
Now she’s the prettiest gal in town.
She never had no one to kiss her lips
Her future looked mighty bleak.
Now she’s on every guy’s list
Since she overhauled her beak.
It goes on and on.  You can hear the whole song at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCuiN2JnjpE

Almost 50 years later, it must be time for an update: Who will be the first to pen, “She Don’t Need No Nose Job”?

ljhomes says:

Circa 1963, MAD Magazine included a tear-out 45RPM insert of “Nose Job.” 
It went something like this:
 
She got a nose job, she got a nose job.
It’s now turned up instead of hangin’ down
She got a nose job, she got a nose job.
Now she’s the prettiest gal in town.
She never had no one to kiss her lips
Her future looked mighty bleak.
Now she’s on every guy’s list
Since she overhauled her beak.
It goes on and on.…you can hear the whole song at
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCuiN2JnjpE

Almost 50 years later, it must be time for an update: Who will be the first to pen, “She Don’t Need No Nose Job”?

Yeah, I remember that Mad Magazine song. I also remember visiting my friend Marcie in the hospital after hers. The tip was to eat lots of oranges to prevent the inevitable black eyes. Thank G-d this idiocy is at last going out of style

IAintNoPushOver says:

The fact is, only a minority of Jews have big noses.

thezohn says:

Interesting: perhaps it’s true, as Haiken points out, that the caricature of the Jewish face is not often seen, but as this magazine has also pointed out, the Israeli model, Bar Rafaeli is considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, followed closely by Mila Kunis.

(http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/100316/sundown-bar-refaeli-bar-none)

Carol Mizrahi says:

Mary Mazol in “Coming of Age…AGAIN,” flatly refuses to fix her nose, despite the fact that her surgeon boyfriend’s hands are itching to work on her nose.  She quotes her beloved father’s poem:  “Said Aaron to Moses, let’s cut off our noses. ”  Said Moses to Aaron, “The fashion’s to wear’em.”  Carol Mizrahi, author of “Coming of Age…AGAIN.”

 What does Zac Efron have to do with this? As you said, he’s 25% Jewish by ancestry. The funny thing is, he looks like a lot of people who are 100% Jewish by ancestry, like Logan Lerman, Robby Benson, and (the late) Tony Curtis.

The other funny thing is that his nose is bigger than theirs. In fact, his nose has that hook at the tip of it. I think it complements his look and he looks better because he has it.

 What does Zac Efron have to do with this? As you said, he’s 25% Jewish by ancestry. The funny thing is, he looks like a lot of people who are 100% Jewish by ancestry, like Logan Lerman, Robby Benson, and (the late) Tony Curtis.

The other funny thing is that his nose is bigger than theirs. In fact, his nose has that hook at the tip of it. I think it complements his look and he looks better because he has it.

 What does Zac Efron have to do with this? As you said, he’s 25% Jewish by ancestry. The funny thing is, he looks like a lot of people who are 100% Jewish by ancestry, like Logan Lerman, Robby Benson, and (the late) Tony Curtis.

The other funny thing is that his nose is bigger than theirs. In fact, his nose has that hook at the tip of it. I think it complements his look and he looks better because he has it.

Get over yourselves. I understand your need to tie everything in to intermarriage, Susan, but this isn’t the time or place.

This focus on racial stereotypes and the like instead of religion and culture only leads to a rise in intermarriage, as far as I can see. What the logical result is of this is someone like Lea Michele, a Catholic actress who talks endlessly about how proud she is of her “Jewish nose”. Father O’Malley is glad to hear that, Lea.

Get over yourselves. I understand your need to tie everything in to intermarriage, Susan, but this isn’t the time or place.

This focus on racial stereotypes and the like instead of religion and culture only leads to a rise in intermarriage, as far as I can see. What the logical result is of this is someone like Lea Michele, a Catholic actress who talks endlessly about how proud she is of her “Jewish nose”. Father O’Malley is glad to hear that, Lea.

Get over yourselves. I understand your need to tie everything in to intermarriage, Susan, but this isn’t the time or place.

This focus on racial stereotypes and the like instead of religion and culture only leads to a rise in intermarriage, as far as I can see. What the logical result is of this is someone like Lea Michele, a Catholic actress who talks endlessly about how proud she is of her “Jewish nose”. Father O’Malley is glad to hear that, Lea.

Helen Hunt is 25% Jewish by ancestry. And I would say she has a moderately big nose.

Helen Hunt is 25% Jewish by ancestry. And I would say she has a moderately big nose.

Helen Hunt is 25% Jewish by ancestry. And I would say she has a moderately big nose.

Of course, we are at one of the golden ages for famous, good-looking Jews. Kunis, Refaeli, Natalie Portman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Logan Lerman, Paul Rudd, etc., all full-blooded Jews.

surfer_dad says:

I think the woman pictured in absolutely beautiful and I honestly don’t think she would benefit from a nose job at all. The unique bump on the upper third of her nose offsets equally unique eye shape wonderfully.
Uniqueness is beauty too (just ask Jennifer Grey!).

You havent mentioned THE most famous partly (1/4) Jewish person .. The oustandingly handsome and charismatic Elvis Aaron Presley. His maternal Grandmother was Jewish and off stage he wore his Star of David.

melissainmadrid says:

No need to get defensive.  What Susan and I suggested was merely a (perfectly reasonable) hypothesis that the author of this article seemed to overlook.  Two phenomena which have been empirically documented separately from one another (a rise in intermarriage and a decrease in nose jobs) may have a relation to one another.  Or they may not.  But it’s  certainly plausible.

ricksonelliot says:

More and more Jews are having plastic surgery to fix the “Jewish protruding lower lip”

When I was young I adored my Italian grandmother’s elegantly beaked nose. My Welsh grandfather had one too, although we described Dad’s nose as Roman. As for me, I spent years trying to turn my upturned nose into something with structure. Never did get the idea of reducing an elegant nose.

frechie_montana says:

God gave Jews big noses because he wanted them to stand out so they can’t get away with their evil works.as for Greeks/italians there is a Greek & roman nose which is normal and straight in majority of the population only those with north African Jew roots who intermarried with the local population through out history have those jew hook noses Pretty much Sicilians who aren’t even Latin/balkanic origin people

I expect a margin of that intermarriage effect may be due to cultural attitudes toward rhinoplasty, beside the shifted balance of alleles.

I’m Semitic/Irish/German with an unmitigated schnoz to match my dad–at least the cheekbones came with it, but trust me, I’ve a funny face. A surgeon *and* a Jew, he was all for having the thing lopped off upon adolescence. My mom (with our extended Catholic family of blonde and ginger Charlize Therons in accord) was so disinterested in the idea that my opinion never crossed the table.

Vapo_Marx says:

I think the girl in the photo is stunning; I wouldn’t change a thing about her beautiful profile. Do you think she’d date a goy like me? ;)

brutus says:

the hideous jewish protruding lower lip,and elongated center of face along with a weak chin and sloping forehead- voilla vermin face

brutus says:

she had the jew rat face,no biggie

$70388967 says:

I am not Jewish, but my Grandpa was a Polish catholic and I have a nose that looks just like the one in the above picture. I have a Jewish nose.

My colleague also has a polish grandpa and a big nose like that. I also wondered if it was because he was part polish or jewish. Polish people also have big noses I read. I myself am Arien, blond hair blue eyed only my greatgrandmother was possible jewish and also have a rather big nose with some angels in it but its goodlooking and fits my face. I dont find the girl ugly because of her nose, I find it rather pitty people are unsecure about their appearance and change their noses, which is a rather characteristic part ugly or beautiful.

cannot stand kikes says:

kikes dont need nose jobs the creatures need a goooooood fumigation job

2000

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A Nose Dive for Nose Jobs

As standards of beauty shift, rhinoplasty—once a rite of passage for Jewish teens—declines in popularity

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