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Rhinoplasty in Stockholm, Sweden: comments on the fine, straight and chiseled Nordic nose
Igor Niechajev (I.N.) and Per-Olle Haraldsson (P.O.H.), two of the most active rhinoplasty (nose jobs ) surgeons in Stockholm, Sweden, described the ethnic profile of their aesthetic rhinoplasty surgery patients from 1985-1995(1). The patients were residents of Stockholm, Sweden. The ethnic breakdown is shown below.
About 48% of the patients were non-Nordic, whereas in 1994, non-Nordic inhabitants were 12.5% of the population in Stockholm, i.e., the non-Nordic inhabitants were six times more likely to undergo aesthetic rhinoplasty than the Nordic inhabitants. Stockholm inhabitants of Middle Eastern extraction were 3.1% of the population in 1994, and were thereby 17 times more likely than the Nordics to seek nose jobs. Overall, the ratio of men to women among the patients was 1:1.3, but among people originating in Russia, Poland, and the former Czechoslovakia, this ratio was 1:17, which the authors attributed to many Slavic women being mail-order brides and thereby very particular about looking good.
Here is the comment by the authors as to why the non-Nordics are much more likely to seek nose jobs:
Why are ‘‘foreigners’’ having their noses operated on much more frequently than the native Swedes? Has the government’s official immigrant policy failed? Many of our ‘‘foreign’’ patients speak flawless or almost flawless Swedish, seek or keep good jobs, but still feel that their noses are against them. They feel that people stare at them. Rhinoplasty gave such patients increased self-assurance. Many, of course, requested surgery because they just wanted to look better. Others have experienced that an un-Swedish name or look is a major obstacle in the job market. By changing their names and diminishing their noses many Middle Easterners desire a more European, ‘‘Italian’’ look, which is much better accepted
(see example of the 16-year-old Middle Eastern girl below).
Sweden has introduced probably the most generous immigration laws in the world. Our country is internationally active and in the forefront of the U.N., UNESCO, International Red Cross, and other similar organizations, fighting for human rights and considers itself a consciousness of the world. This international success has unfortunately not been followed by an abolition of petty discrimination on the home ground. Legislations could be changed over night, whereas a profound change of attitudes in the society takes many decades. A part of our study confirms the integration bluff in Sweden. In order to be accepted by the society many emigrees have to change their names and buy new noses.
The authors are probably trying to offer a politically correct explanation above but have let the pictures in their paper speak for themselves as far as the real reason is concerned.
The authors provided illustrations of how non-Swedish noses differ from Swedish/Nordic noses by showing pictures of common types of noses found among the non-Swedish groups their patients came from.
The following example is of a Finnish woman. Compared to Swedes, the Finns, on average, have wider and flatter noses. The rate of aesthetic rhinoplasty among non-Swedish Nordics was not higher than among Swedish Nordics.
The following example is of a Slavic woman. For technical terminology, refer to this diagram. In Slavic noses, the dorsum is wider and the nasal tip is bulkier with strong, well-structured alar cartilages. The nose tip is either upturned or prominent. The height of the dorsum may match Swedish norms or be a little less. The naso-labial angle is > 90 degrees.
The following example is of a Greek woman, illustrating a common type of nose in the Mediterranean region; before surgery (left) and after straightening her nose and shaving off part of the columella. “Typical for this region is an ‘‘eagle’’ profile with the high, convex dorsum, ‘‘hanging’’ columella, and a naso-labial angle < 90 degrees. On the frontal view the tip can have crescent appearance and the dorsum is narrow. Both skeletal and cartilaginous parts of the nose are strong and well developed. The skin is moderately thick.”
The following example is of a Levantine (Dinaric) nose commonly found in the area close to the Mediterranean coast, corresponding to the areas of modern Lebanon and Syria. These noses are large and have a nasoglabial angle less than 90 degrees. The dorsum is frequently high and arching. “The nasal tip is fine and narrow. Nose contour from root to tip is long, but the columella is overshortened, pulling the tip in and down.”
The following example shows an Iraqi Kurd before his surgery (left) and after making his nose straighter. He is illustrating a common nose type in the Eastern Middle Eastern region (Iraq, Iran): large, strongly built, naso-labial angle of <90° and possessing thick and oily skin. “The nasal tip is wide and heavy containing large alar cartilages and a well-developed subcutaneous fat layer.”
The following example shows a “perfectly assimilated” 16-year-old girl of Middle Eastern origin who straightened her nose (A, C show pre-surgery pictures) to acquire a straighter-nosed southern European look.
The authors also described an example of the extreme kind of nose job requests they get. The following picture shows a 19-year-old woman of Korean ancestry who arrived with a very European-looking mannequin and said that she wanted the nose seen in the mannequin. She was advised not to have surgery.
The authors also provided the picture of a Swedish patient that sought refinement of her nose:
So what is the reason why a greater proportion of non-Nordics seek nose jobs? What does one expect if they live among a people where fine, straight and chiseled noses as among the following Swedish males are often encountered?
In the pictures of Nordic noses below (click for larger images), note the prominence of the nasal bones (upper part of the nose) in side view even though the nose itself is feminine and not overall very prominent, and contrast them with the upper nose projection of the 16-year-old Middle Eastern girl shown above, which is not prominent enough for the surgeon to give her nose a Nordic look, i.e., the woman can at most settle for a straighter Southern European look.
In a nutshell, the pictures speak for themselves with respect to answering the authors’ question, “Why are ‘‘foreigners’’ having their noses operated on much more frequently than the native Swedes?” The authors are no doubt aware of this but obviously couldn’t say it in the paper. The answer to this question is not the domination of Swedish society by Nordics. Whereas Nordic Swedes are not particularly known to be a thin-lipped European people, I doubt that non-Europeans are generally enthusiastic about thinner European lips. Untanned Nordic skin is also likely too pale for many non-Europeans, certainly a greater proportion than the proportion that does not appreciate fine, straight and chiseled Nordic noses (probably close to zero percent among Middle Eastern and Mediterranean populations). In addition, Moslems often despise the gender egalitarianism and women’s rights situation in the Nordic nations, the best of its kind, and would consider it an abomination to adopt the secular elements of Western culture, yet have admiration for fine and chiseled Nordic noses. How is this mix of admired, more or less neutral and despised Nordic traits explained? Obviously some admired features are intrinsically admired, which is explained very well by the pictures above.
On the other hand, there are some non-Europeans who make their nose look more European and end up dissatisfied as a result of losing a sense of ethnicity(2).
Consider a common tendency among noses in South Asia (India), shown below, where the dashed line describes the straightening that some Indians seek.
Famous Indian beauty Aishwarya Rai has the gently hooked nose shown above.
A south Asian woman is shown below with a surgically Europeanized nose (A, B, C), but she sought another nose job, nose implants to be more precise, to restore her ethnic looks somewhat (D, E, F); click image for larger version.
Similarly, the following example shows a Jewish man who had had a nose job (A, B, C), causing him to lose a sense of ethnicity, whereupon he had a nose implant to make his nose more prominent, though he kept it straight (D, E, F); click image for larger version.
- Niechajev I, Haraldsson PO. Ethnic profile of patients undergoing aesthetic rhinoplasty in Stockholm. Aesthetic Plast Surg. May-Jun 1997;21(3):139-145.
- Romo T, 3rd, Kwak ES, Sclafani AP. Revision rhinoplasty using porous high-density polyethylene implants to reestablish ethnic identity. Aesthetic Plast Surg. Nov-Dec 2006;30(6):679-684; discussion 685.