Bella Hadid’s nose job: Do celebs owe us discretion?

Words by Rume Otuguor

In a recent Vogue interview, Bella Hadid revealed that she’d undergone plastic surgery for her nose at the age of 14, which sparked conversation on beauty standards at large. Whilst celebs-predominantly female- going under the knife is not a new phenomenon, they usually fall into one of two camps. Some choose to announce it, whilst others prefer to keep it private. Yet it’s usually the case that those in the latter will be drawn out on social media until they are forced to admit that they have had work done. But is it really any of our business? Must celebrities reveal every gritty detail about their changing appearance? They give us a lot, that much is true, but if a child feels the need to permanently alter a feature for the sake of aesthetics, then surely this too is worth shouting about.

Fourteen is a tender age wrought with insecurity, fear and changes. Factor in the online world of smoke and mirrors, and being a teenager becomes ever more complicated. Without anyone telling us, we all knew the look to aim for and with that all the external edits we wanted to make. Bella’s decision not only puts its starkly the immense pressure to conform at a young age but also the lack of regulations surrounding children’s aesthetic procedures. With that being the case, onus falls on the parent or guardian but if the TikTok decks of Yolanda Hadid are anything to go by then it is of little wonder why Bella was approved for a major surgery at such a young age- one which she now regrets. If anything, this revelation, encourages discourse on laissez-faire attitudes from parents and surgeons alike towards cutting a face that hasn’t even had the chance to fully form.

‘I wish I had kept the nose of my ancestors,’ she laments in the interview. Such a poignant statement begs the question: Who owns the yardstick we use to measure our beauty? On her dad’s side, Bella is of Palestinian descent but works in the Western modelling industry. In those spaces, the Eurocentric increments- thin, white, and button-nosed to name a few- is the main unit of measurement.  Beauty is relative depending on where you are, but the above criterion prevails particularly in entertainment. Unfortunately, the trickle-down is felt in wider society, causing girls of all variations to see their perfectly normal, inherited features as birth defects that need fixing. With Bella speaking on a public platform and being a role model for many young girls, hopefully, this message will nurture positive self-perceptions of our natural beauty.

Tyra Banks, a model like Hadid, also had rhinoplasty early on in her career. She revealed that although there was an abnormality, it was of no detriment to her health, and ultimately her decision was solely for beauty purposes. There were no regrets there, but she did feel a responsibility to tell the truth.’ By saying this, Banks is aware of the aesthetic pressures operating in a society that makes people feel inadequate. She is aware that there is a level of deception in Hollywood that seeks to pass off cosmetically altered bodies as ‘natural’ – a problem that telling the truth definitely sheds light on. Whether or not it was the right or wrong choice for them, both celebrities felt it necessary to share it with the public.

Celebrities are the arbiters of fashion, beauty and glamour. People look to them to see what’s trending, and the Brazilian Butt lift (BBL) is a cosmetic surgery that has reigned supreme over the last decade thanks to celebrities such as Cardi B sporting them. Her speaking candidly about her risky procedure that saw her backside leaking for five days after has spurred open conversation about the dangers surrounding the surgery. Since then, more women have come forward to share their traumatic experiences. Infections, abdominal numbness and circulations issues have been cited as common side effects and the result doesn’t always satisfy. More honest portrayals of BBLs helps people make a more informed choice, acknowledging both the good and the bad.  

Any cosmetic surgery carries a high risk of complications or even doing it for the wrong reasons. When those with widespread influence bring attention to these less than desirable aspects, then maybe people will think twice before making or enabling this permanent decision.

Word by Suraya Rumbold-Kazzuz

A few weeks ago, Bella Hadid announced in Vogue Magazine that at age 14, she did get a nose job. She expressed her regrets and how it had affected her life since, particularly noting that she wished she had left her nose alone so she would feel more in touch with her ancestors. The quote, naturally, went viral, with content creators and fans debating the implications of getting plastic surgery at such a young age. While Bella Hadid is well within her rights to discuss her plastic surgery past, her admission has led to conversations about discretion surrounding plastic surgery, leaving many asking, ‘Do celebs owe us discretion when it comes to plastic surgery?’. My short answer: No. 

Bella’s announcement brought about some fascinating and necessary conversations about how westernised beauty standards have left anybody who doesn’t fit into a eurocentric vision of beauty feeling like they do not belong. It’s a crucial conversation, but that doesn’t mean every celebrity should have to announce every beauty enhancement surgery they have. If there is an expectation that celebs tell us about each and every way they beautify themselves, we’d be left exhausted and annoyed. It is well documented that men and women in the industry alike have access to seemingly secret, expensive and unattainable beauty regimens. So rather than focusing on celebrities who don’t want to disclose their beauty histories, we should instead be willing to discuss those who have.

Western beauty ideals come for everyone (even celebs). Of course, Black and brown women often deal with the most abuse and hatred, with colonisation having a massive part to play in our current beauty ideals. So we cannot expect everybody to be willing to disclose their pasts if we look at Kylie Jenner and her infamous lip-filler denials. It seemed incredibly important to the public that Kylie admitted to having gotten filler, something she clearly and initially did not want to do. I think that people fail to recognise that Kylie was just 17. She was a teenager. While there is something to be said about the fact that she had access to body-altering enhancements at such a young age, there is also something to be said that she should not have felt pressured to announce her filler. I think that online there is a lack of sympathy, particularly towards women. And while the Kardashians have played a massive role in maintaining unattainable (and often fat-phobic or racist) beauty ideals, in the case of Kylie, there was a lack of sympathy towards someone who was, at the end of the day, still a child. 

While Hadid’s announcement has furthered, informed, and, most importantly, taught us a little more about beauty standards, eurocentric ideals, and the private lives of child celebrities, there is still no need for each celebrity to disclose their cosmetic histories.