We all know the story of Jennifer Gray and her rhinoplasty surgery. It’s often referred to when talking about plastic surgery results that leaves you looking like someone else. Gray, who recently released her memoir Out of the Corner, says she spent a long time trying to figure out what happened to her career after her starring roles in 80s classics Red Dawn, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the iconic Dirty Dancing alongside Patrick Swayze. “I spent so much energy trying to figure out what I did wrong, why I was banished from the kingdom. That’s a lie. I banished myself,” the 62-year-old actress told People, referring to that now infamous nose job.
Gray says her nose has always been a topic of conversation, even before her infamous rhinoplasties—she admits to not loving the first one and having a revision procedure afterward— as her mother and outsiders would often comment for her need to tweak her nose. Her parents, Academy Award–winning actor Joel Gray and actress Jo Wilder, had undergone rhinoplasties themselves, which influenced her decision. “She loves me, loved me, always has, and she was pragmatic because she was saying, ‘Guess what? It’s too hard to cast you. Make it easier for them.’ And then I did and she was right. It wasn’t like, ‘You’re not pretty.’ It’s like, ‘Guess what? If you don’t want to be an actor, okay. But if you wanna be an actor…’ But when I was a kid, I was completely anti-rhinoplasty. I mean it was like my religion. I loved that my parents did it. [Underwent rhinoplasty] I understand it was the 50s. I understand they were assimilating. I understood that you had to change your name and you had to do certain things, and it was just normalized, right?”
Gray recalls a time that Andy Warhol spoke to her about her nose, another example of outside influence, which she found to be hurtful but also reinforced her feeling of needing to fix it. “There was only one thing said to me, about me. And it was like, ‘And, you know, I would look at Jennifer. I would wonder, you know, why was her… Um, her dad got a nose job. Why wouldn’t he make sure she had one too,’ or something like that,” said Gray. “It’s like everywhere I went, I’d be like, ‘Wait. Excuse me. I’m a person with other features and other amazing characteristics. Why is everyone so hung up on the nose?’ But here’s the thing. Like I’m always shocked at people’s meanness.”
When she finally did decide to have her rhinoplasty surgery, she said the response she got from not only the public, but her own friends and costars was difficult to bare. Recalling one notable event, she says Michael Douglas didn’t even recognize her on the red carpet. “That was the first time I had gone out in public. And it became the thing, the idea of being completely invisible, from one day to the next. In the world’s eyes, I was no longer me and the weird thing was that thing that I resisted my whole life, and the thing I was so upset with my mother for always telling me I should do my nose. I really thought it was capitulating. I really thought it meant surrendering to the enemy camp. I just thought, ‘I’m good enough. I shouldn’t have to do this.’ That’s really what I felt. ‘I’m beautiful enough.’”
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