A Star Is Born Is A Love Letter To Every Woman Who's Ever Hated Her Nose
If you haven’t yet been affected by the total saturation of A Star Is Born mania, you probably don’t have a TV, smartphone, computer, or Entertainment Weekly subscription. In that case, here’s the gist: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are in a very high-profile movie about singers (and lovers) who own the world's cutest dog (played by Cooper's own pup) and teach each other important lessons about artistry, the industry, and the world at large. Though absolutely unsurprising to anyone who’s seen the trailer, the film spends a generous amount of time setting up the relationship between Ally (Gaga) and Jackson (Cooper). Their chemistry is palpable, but their relationship isn't what stuck out to me most about the movie — instead, it was Ally's relationship with her nose.
In an early scene, Jackson asks Ally if she writes her own songs. No, she tells him, she doesn’t feel comfortable doing that. “Almost every single person I’ve come in contact with in the music industry has told me that my nose is too big and that I won’t make it,” she solemnly explains.
“I think your nose is beautiful,” Jackson tells her.
Jackson's validation of Ally's nose might seem inconsequential to some, but for me, the moment felt particularly important.
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where my mother and I were the only Jews for miles (and miles, and miles). Looking around at my peers, adorable little ski slope noses were the norm. If my nose was a ski slope, it was an incredibly dangerous one, with a sharp bump and startling drop off giving pause to even the best athletes on the mountain—er, nose. (Fun side note: skiing is also a major pastime in my hometown, and perhaps testament to my very isolated Jewishness, I have never tried).
Though people were constantly reassuring me that my nose was fine, regaling me with tales of Barbra Streisand (who refused to get a nose job) and Jennifer Grey (whose career suffered after she got one), I wanted to have it fixed.
When Jackson drops Ally off after their first date, he rolls his car window down to “take another look” at her. In what becomes their signature exchange (and a highly meme-able moment), she runs her pointer finger along the bridge of her nose and down the rest of her face.
Ally's nose becomes her superpower — and that added dose of confidence not only improves her self-image, but propels her to super stardom.
Unlike the myriad physical features one can change without elective surgery (weight, hair, skin, etc., etc.), the size and shape of our noses — and the insecurity they can cause — is not something we hear about very often in television and movies. In fact, the last time I remember seeing a storyline in mainstream media about the size of a character's nose was Seinfeld's "Nose Job" episode, in which George Costanza (Jason Alexander) can't get the size of his new girlfriend's nose out of his mind and ends up dumping her because of it. Of course, this only contributes to the list of notoriously ridiculous reasons George has broken up with women — other deal breakers include leaving too long of answering machine messages and taking credit for buying a salad she did not purchase. Still, it's hard to get the message of "Nose Job" out of my mind — it haunted me throughout high school and left me convinced the size of my nose was the reason I remained dateless until senior year.
A few years back Glee also touched on the idea of noses as a point of insecurity. The character played by actress Lea Michele, cites Barbra Streisand as her hero and inspiration for avoiding rhinoplasty. This depiction certainly helped me through my own insecurity, but it didn't change the fact that Rachel Barry (Michele) was an outsider and constantly bullied through the bulk of the show's run.
When it comes to A Star Is Born, though, Ally is a legitimate rock star, the size of her nose be damned.
When Ally rises to fame, she and Jackson take a moment to discuss the massive billboard of her face overlooking the city. “You always said you like my nose,” she says, “Well it’s real big up there.” Without taking a beat, Jackson tells her, “I wish it was bigger up there. The whole thing should just be your f—king nose.”
Well, Jackson, I tend to agree.