Monday, April 23, 2007

A Pinch of Fate

There's a strong Taiwanese folk belief that the shape of the nose can be changed simply by pinching it. In local society a long straight nose is preferred, with the result that the childhoods of many local women saw periodic torture with clothespins and other devices to lengthen out a beautiful pug nose. Like my wife.

Here an intrepid company has capitalized on this belief by offering a specialized nose pincher, a "nose lengthener." The original price was $250, but it's on special for $199. Use just 5-10 minutes per day, while driving, reading, watching TV... Very convenient! And you can use it with any nose.

There's more to this nose thing than an aesthetic preference, however. Chinese believe that the nose represents wealth (see the ancient art of Face Reading). The longer and straighter and fleshier it is, the wealthier you will be. What's fascinating is that in so many cases, from feng shui to plastic surgery, fate is not assumed to be inexorable, but in fact, is treated as malleable and manipulable. As this Taiwan Journal article notes:

Along the same lines, plastic surgeons acknowledge that more people come in for nose jobs, mole removal and eyebrow plucking during economic downturns. "They want to avoid bad luck and increase their wealth," one doctor remarked.

Looking in the mirror, I am forced to ask: so how come it hasn't worked for me?


FarAway said...

A friend recently mentioned to me another reason for the desire for long noses. He said that he (and most Asians) cannot easily find glasses because it's difficult to find ones that fit. Their noses simply cannot support many styles. This had never occurred to me before. According to him, white folks are lucky because our noses make it possible to wear almost any style. Now, if only my vision would hurry up and deteriorate...

Anonymous said...

I can put my picture with the nose clip on this blog!