One Reason For Severing A Family Connection

Imagine tossing out a family memento before you realized what you had. That’s the way I felt when I discovered the old photo I showed you in this post and talked about in the follow-up one yesterday.

In the mid 90s, I had a little plastic surgery. When I did it I unknowingly severed a connection to my family history. I have to admit I felt a little wistful when I saw the old photographs and realized what I had done.

Looking back, it seems fairly shallow and superficial that I spent so much time worrying about a physical characteristic that most people didn’t seem to notice. It bothered me a great deal though and when I got a bonus at work, I took a bit of the extra money and changed my look.

Elizabeth Harper - 1993

Ignore the mullet and how it oddly looks like both ears are sticking out here.

Not only did my right ear stick out in a way the left one didn’t, it was flat inside with none of the whirled bits that most ears have. I never considered I had the option of changing it until I was in my 30s and mentioned it to the plastic surgeon who reworked the area where my melanoma had been removed. She talked to me about the ease of having it done and before I knew it, I was living with a new ear.

When I went in for my post surgery follow-up, I said it felt like she’d cut my ear off and sewn it back on. The look that passed between my doctor and her nurse confirmed I was probably not far off in my sense of what it must have looked like during surgery.

My Ear After Surgery

Was it worth it? I never really questioned my decision not even when I realized the connection to other family members. After years of avoiding getting my hair wet while swimming, and wishing I could wear my hair cut really short, I could finally do both without worrying about how my ears looked. The only lasting negative side effect has been the way my ear sometimes aches when the weather’s very cold.

Elizabeth Harper With Jersey Girl

After years of turning my head to avoid showing my ear, I have trouble remembering to face the camera fully and it’s difficult to find pictures showing both ears at once even since my ear surgery. This shows me with longer hair, but you can still see that the ear closest to Jersey Girl is no longer sticking out through my hair.

I loved the results and rarely thought about it when looking in the mirror or tucking my hair behind my ears until I saw the picture of my great-grandmother and discovered that what I’d considered an imperfection was a family trait.

As someone who worked for years in an industry that liked to have cheerleader pretty types marketing their products, I was acutely aware that product knowledge needed to be balanced somewhere between bubbly attractiveness and at least the appearance of youth.

Elizabeth & Alley - 1994

I look hyped up on caffeine, but I had just rushed in from Atlanta to grab our cat so my daughter Miranda could have her at school for pet day. Notice the before surgery ear I’m trying to hide with my big hair. It’s hard to see my ear with that door knocker hanging off it. 

As a working actor, I recognized that pretty, and young, were often at the top of the list when casting a part. It’s no accident that my ear pinning happened while I was working as a drug rep and auditioning for film and commercial work.

Elizabeth Harper - 1996 - Funny Ears

See it sticking out on the left?

When I was working towards my university degree, I had an advisor tell me that I would not get much work as an actor until I was older as I was more suited for character roles. I thought at the time that he must be thinking that at 24, I was too old and not pretty enough. Having spent time a little time in front of a camera, I think he was right.

Can you find me in the photo below?

Elizabeth Harper - UGA - With The Major-General And His Other Daughters - Pirates Of Penzance

I haven’t done any acting since 1998 when I changed companies and didn’t have time to do both and these days I’d rather spend my time writing. I was never really that good of an actor, but if I’m ever moved to dip my toes back in the shallow and often ‘looks focused’ waters of the acting world again, I can totally rock a Dame Judi Dench haircut especially now that both of my ears match.

Dame Judi Dench (Internet Photo)

Elizabeth Harper - 2011