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 November 2022-February 2023

My Dysmorphic Relationship With My Nose

This personal series explores my psychological dysmorphic relationship with my nose, the physical side effects during the 2-week healing process, and my emotional state after my nose job. 
 
Growing up, I developed a toxic relationship with the structure planted in the center of my face. I saw it as a flaw that ruined my photos, looks, likeability, social status, and everything else a middle schooler cares about. This nose, a manifestation of my dad’s beautiful Spanish heritage, was what I hated most about myself.
 
This first part of my series explores the depths of my insecurity and its profound impact on my self-image. It offers a glimpse into my psychological and emotional state growing up with a dysmorphic perception of my nose.

This isn’t a story that ultimately ends in self-love and acceptance. This is a story of a flaw that consumed and shattered me so much that plastic surgery soon became my reality. 

The rest of the series displays the raw and intimate moments in the 2 week recovery period, where I reveal both the visible and unseen side effects of my surgery. Through alternative and multi-media processes, I show the diverse range of my physical side effects and emotions, from the discomfort of wearing a constant nose cast during recovery to the joy and self-acceptance weeks after the reveal. 

Inheritance

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“Inheritance” reveals the origin of my nose through a portrait of me and my dad.

Fixation

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“Fixation” shows how I viewed pictures of myself. Whether it was a family portrait or a selfie, I would only focus on my nose and how it ruined the image. Thus, I created and printed a collage of pre-surgery-me, circled my nose in red for emphasis, placed wax paper over the image, and cut out holes revealing my nose and blurring the rest.

WARNING! Media Symptoms May Include Dysmorphia

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“WARNING! Media Symptoms May Include Dysmorphia” illustrates how social media caused me to hyper-focus on my flawed nose, where I ultimately adopted a dysmorphic perception of myself. I created this by printing an enlarged version of my old nose and completely covering my face to show how I irrationally saw myself. 

Be Careful What You Wish For

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“Be Careful What You Wish For” is the extreme manifestation of my hate towards my nose, posing the question: if I despise my nose so intensely, why not simply get rid of it?
I printed my self-portrait and folded the print along the middle to remove my nose. Next, I sewed over the fold to show the permanence of my wish and the irreversible nature of surgery. 

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Pierced Fears and Colorful Hope

I sought to create a portrait that captures the simultaneous fearful pain and joyful anticipation I felt leading up to my plastic surgery. This image depicts my willingness to endure the physicality of the procedure shown through piercing a printed self-portrait with pins. Each pin represents the impending pain that I anticipate, while the vibrant colors represent the underlying sense of excitement and hope for the result. By visually merging these contrasting elements, I aim to show the mixed feelings associated with life-changing surgery.

July 2019

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"July 2019” refers to the surgery that changed everything for me. After recreating and taking a post-surgery picture of my new nose, I printed the image and rewrote a page from my journal in the negative space. I revealed this so the viewer could understand how deep my desire ran for a rhinoplasty and how much pain the lack of it caused. 

Wrapped in Irony

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With "Wrapped in Irony", I wanted to create a captivating still-life photo of the tools from my surgery, but present them in a paradoxical manner. Thus, I wrapped the surgical tools in gauze and tainted it with fake blood (red food dye) to do to them what they did to me. 

Crimson Cast

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The main side effect I wanted to document were the constant nose bleeds I would get. I sought to avoid creating an obvious portrait of myself with my nose bleeding and instead make another striking still-life.
Additionally, I wanted to include the nose cast that adorned my face for two weeks, becoming a part of my identity during that time.
Thus, I reconstructed my nose cast by covering my nose in wet plaster sheets. Then, I added tissue stained with red food dye to resemble blood to further emphasize the constant nosebleeds that dominated the healing process. 

Healing Hues

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This self-portrait is about the intense bruising and healing following my rhinoplasty. The vibrancy of the purple LED light and the yellow LED light serves as a visual representation of the intense bruising I endured during the recovery process. As for the healing narrative, I placed slices of pineapple, the fruit I consistently ate due to its anti-inflammatory properties, over my eyes— the very area where the bruising was most pronounced.

Cracks of Nocturnal Breathing

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"Cracks of Nocturnal Breath" is a self-portrait focusing on my throat. By burning and cracking the printed photograph with a heat gun, I aim to convey the nightly struggle of sleeping with my mouth open due to a clogged nose during recovery. The cracks in the image mirror the physical dryness of my throat, evoking the sensation of an inner cracking. Finally, I set this portrait against a dark background to represent nighttime.

Bloodied Gaze

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I created this piece to represent my bruised and bloody eyes during my recovery after my surgery. I took a close-up photo of my eyes, printed it, frayed a red ribbon, and burned it with a heat gun to cause the ribbon to shrivel up as it does so in the image. This was done so the string could resemble my blood vessels. I also wanted the ribbon to fall off the image to experiment with alternative processes. 

Showercap Solution

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This self-portrait shows my solution to being unable to wet my nose cast during showers. I photographed myself in the shower with a shower cap covering my face, shielding the delicate nose cast beneath. It was a clever and practical solution to ensure the cast remained dry and secure.

Unrecognizable Self

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"Unrecognizable Self" is a deeply personal self-portrait photograph that explores the first half of the emotional aftermath of my nose job journey. After the two-week recovery period, I was incredibly upset when I removed the nose cast and witnessed the unfamiliar face that stared back in the mirror. Analyzing this months later, I realized I might've had such a difficult time right after the reveal due to a psychological rejection my brain might have had towards my new appearance.
This photograph aims to capture the complex emotions that came with this moment of self-discovery and temporary confusion. To depict this inner turmoil, I printed the image twice and layered them together. Then, I tore and arranged the top layer image to create an unrecognizable perception of myself.

Blossoming Self-Love

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"Blossoming Self-Love" is a vibrant self-portrait that captures the profound emotions I experienced weeks after my successful nose job when I finally got used to my appearance and the swelling decreased. The image represents the culmination of my journey toward self-acceptance and the resulting feelings of joy, hope, self-confidence, and self-love. To visually manifest these emotions, I took a picture of myself radiating contentment and satisfaction with my new appearance and the insecurity-free life that awaited me. In post-production, I used Photoshop to have petunias emerging from my face. This is because petunias represent new beginnings, hope, and healing, which accurately defines the finale of my emotional journey after my nose job.

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