Jen Ives

Jen Ives

A Very Open Rhinoplasty

As a trans woman in comedy, oversharing with strangers about how I’ve changed my body has become a sort of ‘second-nature’ to me (as opposed to ‘first-nature’ who is a two-bit, know-nothing idiot). Heck, even in civilian life I can’t stop going on about it – the elderly gentleman who owns my local newsagent pretends he’s embarrassed when I tell him my current bust size, but I know he just hides out the back when I come in out of politeness. 

Even today, audiences seem to have a deep curiosity about how the mysterious life of the transgender specimen works. You’d think they’d never seen a Channel 4 documentary! (I recommend My Big Fat Transsexual Summertime Sadness – real funny stuff). 

I think because trans people sometimes feel like they’re physically in a constant state of flux, talking about things like cosmetic surgery sort of seems like no biggie. In fact, at Transgender Agenda HQ™, we smalltalk about surgery in much the same way the straights discuss the weather (as a warm-up, before we decide how best to corrupt the youth & erase lesbian identities).

Last month, I got a nose job (or an “Open Rhinoplasty” if you want to be technical / mean about it – why you gotta name it after a rhinoceros though?)*. 

Like most things in my life, I got straight into talking about it on stage, and of course the straights gobbled it right up – ‘yum yum yum – tell us about your metamorphosis’. But what surprised me was how often cis-gendered female comedians came up to me after a set to either confess their own seemingly secret desire to have cosmetic surgery, or to confide in me that they already had done so, but hadn’t told anybody yet. And those in the latter camp, I will list right now below this article! (kidding). 

I think trans women are expected to have and discuss their cosmetic surgery, because it’s just taken to be a ‘part of our journey’. It’s certainly been a part of mine (like taking hormones, or abandoning my old friends and family). Some people even measure the authenticity of a trans woman’s identity based on the number of affirming surgeries they’ve had, which is daft – because everyone knows you measure it on how straight our boyfriends look. 

From some of the conversations I’ve had with my cisgendered surgery sisters on the scene (yeah, I alliterate – double A in GCSE English, no big deal) I get the distinct impression that there is a definite hesitance to talk about it publicly, possibly out of a fear of appearing self-obsessed or vain? God knows there is still a lot of stigma around the concept of physical enhancements. The beauty industry literally makes its billions off of the epilated backs of insecure women (reference: see – feminism). 

This article isn’t an endorsement of cosmetic surgery (although, if any clinics have a cheque with the right number of zeros, it could be!) but I do call upon all those women with noses younger than the rest of their face to rise up and maybe be a little more open about it – if for no better reason than to take a bit of the burden off of me. As much as I love talking about my ever shapeshifting appearance, it’d be nice if just once I didn’t have to address it, and instead, I could talk about something more universal – like airline food, or which unlikely combination of celebrities I look like; ‘I know what you’re thinking – when did Caitlyn Jenner and Ryan Gosling have a lovechild?’

Look, I know people get cosmetic surgeries for lots of different reasons. Who am I to tell you what to do? If you want to keep it a secret, that’s totally fine – I wish I had that option. But when people see me, they know instantly that I’ve had work done. Sure, if I didn’t have it printed on a t-shirt, it’d be less obvious – but still, whenever I meet any new person, I know their leading subconscious assumption about me is probably related to my having had some sort of operation. 

I just think the more open we are about our shared insecurities, the better we might be at dealing with them – whether that be through the path of extensive cosmetic facial procedures, or a good old fashioned female bonding self-love night with a glass of prosecco and a copy of The Notebook on DVD, darlin’. 

I’m really thankful for those women who have confided in me recently. It’s good to know I’m not the only one having these experiences, but for all the talk right now about how men don’t open up to each other about their feelings, it’d be nice if I had more women to talk to about my sometimes crippling self-image issues.

Besides, having undergone extensive rhinoplasty research leading up to my surgery – I now have an uncanny ‘nose-dar’ for detecting people who’ve clearly had work done. So even if you don’t tell me…

… I know. 

* Thank God they didn’t name it an Elephantoplasty.

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