Growing up with a big nose, I always felt like I was ugly. I’d read the magazines, seen the movies and noticed all the ads – I knew that to be classified as beautiful in our western society, you had to have a small, delicate nose.
My nose was the exact opposite, so I went through life with the understanding that I would never be conventionally attractive unless I had a nose job. I didn’t just hear this message from the media; I heard it from well-meaning friends who told me how ‘pretty I’d look with a smaller nose’.
But I could never bring myself to go under the knife. As a feminist, I was too embarrassed to let people know my looks bothered me that much. And as a surgery novice, I was terrified by the thought of it going wrong and looking worse than before.
Instead I hated my nose every day, and did everything I could to avoid looking at it. I hid from mirrors, I grew my hair long to detract attention and I learnt how to angle my face to avoid ever having my nose captured side profile in photographs.
This was my reality, until last month. At the age of 27, I decided something had to change. I’d spent my whole teen and adult life hating my nose, and I was sick of it. So I confronted my fear and did the one thing I’d always avoided: took a photo of my big nose in profile, and posted it on social media with the hashtag #SideProfileSelfie.
It went completely viral. My nose is now on websites across the world and has been seen by millions. But the best part is, it’s also inspired thousands to join in. More than 10,000 men and women have sent me their own #SideProfileSelfies, all with messages about how they’ve hated their noses, until now.
My campaign has shown people big noses can be beautiful. It’s a message I wanted to send out, but one that I’ve only truly embraced now – after receiving those thousands of selfies. They’ve proven to me that big noses are strong, powerful and bold, and I’ve finally realised how lucky I am to be born with the kind of nose that Cleopatra had.