Let’s Put an End to Nose Contouring – For Good.

April 3, 2012  |  

For those who don’t know, makeup artists have for years been creating the illusion of thinner (i.e., European) noses by using a technique of applying darker color, slightly darker than your skin tone, on both sides and a lighter shade down the center to make the nose appear narrow. This technique helps to emphasize the bride of your nose while at the same time making the fat parts of the nose on either side of the bridge recede into the background.

Nose contouring appears to be very big among many black women in Hollywood; from Brandy (as evident in this picture) and Serena Williams to Oprah and all the way down to the queen of bad contouring herself, Nicki Minaj, whose own nose contouring is so messy that it stands out more than the crazy costumes and shenanigans she wants to be known for.  In fact, the art of makeup nose reduction has even trickled off the pages of Ebony into every makeup chair of America, where everyday black women have embraced the technique even when there are no paparazzi around. But the total abuse of the nose contouring practice has led me to declare a  moratorium on the practice altogether until…well, let’s just ban it outright.

First off, it just looks bad. With the creation of high definition cameras with all the extra megapixels and harsh lights and paparazzi flashbulbs (there goes that lighting issue again), we can see it. So there is no illusion anymore if we can see that giant stripe of slightly lighter foundation running down the center of your nose. It is so noticeable that I can’t stop staring at it, which is ironic considering that the purpose of nose contouring is to distract attention away from the nose region.

And secondly, and more importantly, what exactly does the illusion of a thinner, narrower nose seek to address – other than trying to soften the blow of natural African features?  It is true that European aesthetics do dominate the entertainment industry in America. And we blithely say that those Northern European and Western European-inspired noses that we see on the cover of magazines are naturally symbols of how folks are supposed to look.  We may try to rationalize it by talking about color and lighting issues, but you would be hard press to see a non-ethnic woman of European descent performing makeup tricks to make their nose look more ethnic.  It’s a sad part of beauty standards that many of us still have internalized without even giving it a second thought.

Now I’m all for a woman wanting to look and feel her best about herself. However, I think the process of feeling better about one’s self begins internally and involves learning how to be more comfortable in your own skin – literally. The funny thing is that if any of these women who abuse the nose contouring ever went out to get actual rhinoplasty, folks would be claiming all sorts of self hatred among them. For instance, Lil’ Kim gets a nose job; the whole world shakes their head. Nicki Minaj gets a Pepé Le Pew stripe down the center of her nose, and the nose contouring, that gets a pass? I guess.  Regardless of where you stand on if it is self hate or not, you’ve got to admit, that ish looks crazy.

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