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Nose Job Felt Like Committing ‘An Unforgivable Crime’

  • In her memoir, “Out of the Corner,” Jennifer Gray shares the experience of undergoing two nose jobs.
  • After surgery, Gray said looking at her nose was like “having a bad hallucinogenic trip.”
  • She recalled no one recognizing her, losing work, and feeling “not as a whole person but as a nose.”

Jennifer Gray wrote in her new memoir that after undergoing surgery to change her nose, it felt like she had “committed an unforgivable crime.”

Gray, who is best known for her role as Baby in 1987’s “Dirty Dancing,” details the challenges with her nose – a nose she says shaped, defined, and ultimately broke her career – in “Out of the Corner.”

A post shared by Jennifer Gray (@jennifer_grey)

At 25, she wasn’t getting the roles she wanted, so her mother suggested she get a nose job, but she would not go through with the procedure for a few more years.

After filming “Dirty Dancing” at 26, however, Gray did not receive any further movie-role offers, so she went for a consultation with “the granddaddy of nose jobs.” She learned that she had a deviated septum, was only breathing at 20% capacity, and did not have a tip on her nose.

She asked to “leave the bump” and just “fine-tune” her nose, hoping to “someday be cast as something… other than a Jew.”

Grappling with what to do, Gray remembered, “I was almost thirty and had spent much of my adult life trying to love and accept myself as I was.” She added, “So going under the knife felt dangerously close to an admission of defeat.”

But she went through with the procedure and was happy with the initial results, and she started getting cast regularly.

A year later, while filming “Wind,” she noticed white cartilage at the tip of her nose. Gray said she told her doctor that she needed it fixed but was happy with her nose and that her appearance could not change mid-shoot.

A few weeks after undergoing her second nose surgery, she looked at herself for the first time without the cast.

“I could not make sense of what I was seeing,” she wrote, adding, “I knew something bad had happened.”

“It was like I was on mushrooms, having a bad hallucinogenic trip,” she said.

Jennifer smiling with her moth open with a thinner nose than she previously had.

Jennifer Gray during the “Wind” movie premiere in 1992 after she had her procedure to fix her nose job.

Jim Smeal / Getty Images

Post-op, Gray went unrecognized at red carpets and by family and friends, including Michael Douglas.

She knew what people thought of her, that she was “a cautionary tale, a punch line,” she wrote. “It seemed that I had committed an unforgivable crime: willfully stripping away the only thing that made me special.”

She went on for years in “purgatory,” unrecognized, without steady work, and with strangers giving back-handed compliments about her new look.

She remembered her loss of identity and career overnight, writing, “I am as I was at the beginning, not as a whole person but as a nose.”

“Out of the Corner” is out now.

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