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May 29, 2007

Why I Love My Big Nose

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Getting the attention of boys wasn't much easier. Aware that my profile packed a punch, I hid behind my long blonde hair and sense of humor, laughing even when my best friend referred to my "hook" in front of the popular preppy boys. None of them asked me out, but I did once experience a horrifying French kiss when a guy snuck out of his house and knocked on my bedroom window. When I opened it, my nose crashed into his cheek before our lips even met. Disaster. (Eventually, I perfected the art of kissing without collision-the 45-degree head tilt with a slight neck extension.)

A few years later, it wasn't pom-poms and pecking but punk rock that taught me the most valuable beauty lesson I ever learned: Whatever you are-own it. In the world of punk, there was a refreshing philosophy about looks. If you had zits, you emphasized them by wearing a red polka-dot dress. If you were overweight, you vamped it up with a 1950s rockabilly look. And if you had a big sniffer, you framed it with an offbeat hairstyle. And so, with mohawked hair, my nose took on a new role as fashion accessory when I had it pierced with a silver hoop. I wasn't the girl next door masking herself with spike collars and eyeliner. I was an iconoclast with a European profile-or so said my non-French employers at a French café, who used a beret-clad moi in their print ad.

More recently, as an extra in The Devil Wears Prada, I was among the two nonprofessional actors chosen to sit at Meryl Streep's table for the Paris luncheon scene-and I'm certain my nose had everything to do with it. The directors wanted "stylish, European fashion-editor types." I stood in line with hundreds of people as the casting crew walked by, scrutinizing. When they got to me, they stopped, stared, and told me to go upstairs. I spent 13 hours across the table from Meryl Streep (whose own nose is fabulously distinctive), continually clapping and turning my cheek to the camera as she rose to make a speech. Months later, I went to the movie on opening night. There, in one of the last scenes, I saw my profile-as big as the movie screen-as the camera focused on a character just beyond me. I'd never been prouder. My nose was a star!

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