Lisa Kudrow on her nose job at 16: ‘That was life altering’

Lisa Kudrow is about to join ABC’s Scandal, which just makes me remember that I have a lot of excellent (trashy) TV to start catching up with. (I haven’t been watching much TV during the site redesign, that is about to change and I am so looking forward to it.)

Kudrow, 50, did an interview with The Saturday Evening Post that is worth reading in its entirety. Kudrow is an actress whom I think of fondly but don’t really follow, so it was a nice surprise to read some of the things she said about her career and remaining positive in the face of adversity. She told a story about how she got shunned by all the popular girls in junior high, and how much of an effect it had on her. This also happened to me in junior high, girls that age can be incredibly cruel, and I found myself relating to her. It’s hard to pick out just the best quotes from this interview since there’s a lot of insight and quotable lines, but I’ll try.

Have you ever experienced anti-Semitism?
LK: Yes, I have. In college there was more anti-Semitism than before college, because there were people who never met a Jew before. A friend of mine, when she found out I was Jewish, said, “Really? Oh, I don’t like Jews.”

Q: Can you relate the story of how your two best friends in junior high school told you they didn’t want to be friends with you anymore?
LK: That happened in seventh grade when we moved from sixth grade to a new school. So they knew some people, and I didn’t. Eventually they just got tired of me being a tag-along. They said, “For your own good, you need to see what would happen if we weren’t here.” It was really brutal. Very hard.

Q: Turned your world upside down?
LK: Yeah, it did. It was just mean. And all of junior high felt upside down to me. It was not, like, the nice people who were popular; it wasn’t the most entertaining people—it was the meanest people who were popular. We were reading Macbeth at the time, and I remember the three witches: “What’s fair is foul and foul is fair.” That’s all I could hear in my head during that whole period. When my friends dropped me I was asking my parents, “What did I do?” And my father would say, “F ’em.” His answer to everything. And my mother would say, “You can’t do that.”

Q: Was it your older sister who rescued you from being isolated in school?
LK: She did, definitely. Unbelievable of her too, because I was 13 and she was 20. She would find out when our half days were, when everyone would go out to lunch and I would have no one to eat with. She would pick me up and take me to lunch. That’s extraordinary to me. It was just very generous of her to be so sensitive and aware, even though there was nothing anyone could do.

Q: You did something about your appearance, having your nose fixed when you were 16.
LK: That was life altering. I went from, in my mind, hideous, to not hideous. I did it the summer before going to a new high school. So there were plenty of people who wouldn’t know how hideous I looked before. That was a good, good, good change.

Q: Do people still call you Phoebe?
LK: Yes, they do. I don’t turn around. I never turn around. If someone’s in front of me, I’ll smile and try to be nice. But I don’t like taking pictures. Autographs are fine.

[From The Saturday Evening Post]

She was probably just as lovely with her original nose, and associated her old look with what she went through as a younger teen, and moving past that. So many actors and actresses have had nose jobs, it seems like the one plastic surgery procedure that they have in common.

There’s even more I didn’t include, like about how she got encouraged to act by Jon Lovitz, who was a friend of her brother, and how Conan O’Brien was in her first improv class. Conan claims that Kudrow deserves the credit for the fact that he became a talk show host. She confirmed that story, saying that she gave him the idea. (She wasn’t bragging, it sounded more matter-of-fact.) She said “I remember saying, ‘If Letterman’s leaving his late-night show, he’s irreplaceable. So better it be someone we don’t know at all.’ So I thought he should look into it.” I came away from this interview wanting to be friends with her, and resolved to start watching her recent show Web Therapy. I’m going to add it to my fall binge list. The couch is calling.



Photos are from this summer. Credit: FameFlynet

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80 Responses to “Lisa Kudrow on her nose job at 16: ‘That was life altering’”

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  1. Jade says:

    She can still get a refund right?

    • yummy says:

      you had to go there? :p Also i was lonely in high school and isolated by my friends in a way more drastic way than not having someone to eat with; so her talk of “it was so traumatising ” is just girl how old you? you should be over it by now.

      • Nina W says:

        Two “friends” treated her cruelly at a pivotal point in her life. She has no need to “get over it” at your pace and I can empathize with her. I was locked in an outhouse by a group of mean girls when I was 13 and at 46, I am still not over it and I am not ashamed of it. I was never able to confront my attackers or have any resolution. I was treated cruelly for sport and that is just not something you get over easily or ever.

      • Jess says:

        My group of friends decided to stop being friends with me when we switched from grade to middle school. The next two years I was teased, bullied and almost cried daily in the girls restroom because they just wouldn’t stop. One of the main reasons I decided to switch to a high school half way across town was because I wouldn’t have to see them again. Im 29 and still not “over” it. Comparing each others suffering/humiliation/pain never really has a winner BUT I don’t think you comprehend what a lasting effect that can have on a girl growing into a young women and the relationships you build with fellow females in the future.

        Perhaps instead of asking her to “get over it” you can sympathize and hope she is a much stronger/wiser woman because of it.

    • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

      Whoa, whoa, whoa…

      …but I still laughed.

  2. dref22 says:

    Speaking of Scandal, I am way too much excited about it, because Jack Coleman will make his debut in this week’s episode!!!!

  3. EmmaV1 says:

    The DM has a picture of Lisa Kudrow’s old nose. IT MADE A HUGE DIFFERENCE. She wasn’t ugly before, but neither was she “lovely” in terms of physical appearance.

    I think we really need to move away from the idea that people pre plastic surgery “was just as lovely or probably even better looking…I love your old face better”. That’s just BS. Yes, for people who go overboard, their old faces are better, but for the large majority of people who keep expectations reasonable, their new faces are better and it comes with more self esteem and confidence.

    When a transgender person undergoes a sex change operation, everyone’s all “Good for you!” but when someone gets a nose job it’s all “your old nose was beautiful! Why did you change yourself?!”

    • Kit says:

      You make a great point with that last sentence.

    • Regina Lynx says:

      Well, you think that she wasn’t lovely in terms of physical appearance pre-nose job – I disagree. I honestly don’t think there was anything wrong with her old nose, except for it not fitting to the beauty ideal of Lisa’s tormenters, or yours, for that matter.

      Really. When will be the day when women have the right to be ‘ugly’? When will be the day women stop picking about each others’ appearance?

      I think we need to move away from the idea that people need alter their appearance to be more accepted.

      • Spooks says:

        When will be the day women will have the right to get plastic surgery if they want to?
        I don’t have a problem with celebs getting things done. The problem is when they deny it.

      • mata says:

        I’m sure it made a difference to her regarding both how she was treated and her own self-esteem.

        The sad fact is that there IS a beauty standard in all societies. We pierce our flesh to hang ornamental bobbles on ourselves, we paint our skin and nails, we shave and pull the hair out of our bodies. Lisa Kudrow is one of the celebrities who is aging gracefully without obvious signs of plastic surgery, botox, and cheek fillers. If altering the appearance of her nose when she was a teenager made her happy and at the age of 50, she still has no regrets about it and considers it one of the best things she did, who am I to judge?

      • MrsBPitt says:

        Its not just women, David Schwimmer of Friends also admitted to a nose job. Although, the standards that women are held to, are much more daunting and impossible in todays world than any man’s…

      • *unf* Joan Jett says:

        @ EmmaV1:

        “When a transgender person undergoes a sex change operation, everyone’s all ‘Good for you!’but when someone gets a nose job it’s all ‘your old nose was beautiful! Why did you change yourself?!’”

        Because Sex Reassignment Surgery has absolutely nothing to do with Vanity?! How can you even compare the struggle that trans* people face (and lets be honest here, it is mostly trans* women of color who face all kinds of horrible things) to simple nose jobs? It doesn’t make any sense!

        To quote Pulp Fiction: “it ain’t the same league; it ain’t even the same fuckin’ sport.”

      • Jayna says:

        You can’t be serious? I have had several friends get nose jobs, and they did it for nobody else but themselves ever, and they have that right to. Why would a woman want the right to be ugly as you said? You can have a bigger nose and still be pretty. But no one wants to be ugly. It’s more like you are projecting on to other people. My close friend hated her nose. She was always sensitive and embarrassed by it and wore far too much makeup to compensate for it. It was a really bad nose I have to say and overpowered her face. She looked really nice afterwards, and it wasn’t some tiny nose afterwards, just a much better version of her nose. Her eyes looked bigger afterwards and she really stopped wearing so much eyemakeup. She told me it was freeing to have it done and felt happier. The same story for two of my other friends. One had a horrible nose, a dent and bulbous in the end, crooked. Just was a pretty girl but her nose was really bad. I never blamed her when she told me she was getting a nose job at 27. She never whined about it to other people, but she told me she has hated her nose for as long as she could remember. All of them would have loved to have had it in high school. None of these girls is obssessed with plastic surgery or boob jobs or fillers or anything like that or big fish lips. They hated that one thing and fixed it.

      • paranormalgirl says:

        ” honestly don’t think there was anything wrong with her old nose, except for it not fitting to the beauty ideal of Lisa’s tormenters, or yours, for that matter.”

        Actually, it didn’t fit to the beauty ideal of HERS and that’s the only opinion that matters.

    • yummy says:

      we need a like button so i can like unf’s comment

    • itstrue says:

      wow, it was really well done for the time, right? I wouldn’t have known, really, and it looks pretty natural.

    • Mitch Buchanan Rocks! says:

      Thank you for including the link. Braces could be thought of the same way – giving more confidence.

    • tessy says:

      The biggest difference I can see in the photos is that she’s happier in the later one. She’s wearing makeup, and has her chin up like she’s proud and confident. If all it takes is a nose job to make an extremely unhappy girl feel that much better then its worth it.

    • Lucinda says:

      My sister-in-law had a boob job and I wish she hadn’t. Yes, I think she is out of proportion now. Yes, I thought she was beautiful before. But mostly, I wish she hadn’t done it because I wish she saw how beautiful she already was and didn’t place so much value on her cosmetic look. My mother-in-law had a face lift and I felt the same way about that. Even her husband had wished she hadn’t done it. I saw how much pain she went through. That’s how I feel about most of the women I personally know who have had cosmetic procedures done. I’m not judging the procedure. I just wish they could embrace their already existing beauty body. I also keep that opinion to myself because it is their choice. That being said, if Kudrow felt better after the nose job, well, good for her. I don’t know her personally so I have no real opinion either way.

    • Missykittens says:

      To say that everyone is supportive of people who have sex change operations, is ignorant. They often face the most ridicule.

      I saw Lisa’s ‘before’ nose and I think it is fine, she was still very pretty. If she wasn’t happy with it, then it’s her call to change it and that’s ok. It sounds like she had a really hard run in high school, I hope things are much better for her now, high school is hard for the best of us.

    • John says:

      She was absolutely adorable, but it was a very different, more ethnic, sporty look than what she has now. I think her new nose is… odd, but it works for her.
      I’ve always liked her– smart, frank, talented and never a whisper of scandal.

    • Veeeery Veeeerytas says:

      I thought a nose job was a rite of passage for a young jewess, tantamount to a circumcision for the male of the tribe.

  4. Tessa says:

    I think she looks fabulous for 50. She’s aging a lot more gracefully than Courteney, who is loaded up with plastic. Every actress has had a nosejob, including both of her Friends female costars, and Matthew Perry.

    • Kate says:

      Perry didn’t have a nose job. David Schwimmer did though.

      • Tessa says:

        When he was a teen, like in Jimmy Riourdan, I thought he had a bulbous tip on his nose, and now it comes to a sharp point. Could be the years of drug abuse and aging, but to me I always thought he got it refined when he was still very young.

      • Kate says:

        I think it’s a weight thing, or maybe more of a puffiness thing. He had some serious facial puppy fat going on basically from Jimmy Reardon to just before he landed Friends. Even now sometimes his nose looks razor sharp, other times it’s as you say, more bulbous. He’s just one of those people who always looks slightly different each time you see them. Sometimes I’ve seen new photo’s and thought he’s had eye work done and then in the next set a couple of days later there’s not the slightest sign of that at all.

        His nose really looks like a mix of his mom and dad, so if he did something he didn’t stray far from the original.

        Mostly though I doubt he had his nose done but didn’t do anything about his jaw-line, since that was what he was extremely bothered by about back in the day.

      • Veeeery Veeeerytas says:

        Then it didn’t take. He still has a schnozzle on him.

  5. Splinter says:

    That makes so much sense! Whenever I saw her on TV I thought her nose was “off”, because of that she always looked strange to me. I think natural facial features always have a balance, altering them too much destroys the balance.
    Anyway, it’s nice to hear that it helped to change her life for the better, athough obviously the nose was not the problem.

    • Kit says:

      A lot of people don’t realize that even a minor change–like shaving a bit off the nose—can change other parts of the face that weren’t meant to be altered… it can pull the skin near a person’s eyes, for instance, and make them look totally different. I feel especially sorry for young children whose parents get drastic plastic surgery on their faces. How jolting and traumatic that must be for them.

  6. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    She looks great, and I’m glad she had the last laugh on those mean girls from junior high.

  7. Eve says:

    Great, now I want to see a “before” picture.

  8. Spooks says:

    I was fat and funny looking in both elementary and high school, and had a great time. People were really nice, no one was cruel. Maybe just a bit of teasing. Other, a bit “different” kids were fine, too. Maybe it’s a culturological thing.

    I also think that there is nothing wrong with plastic surgery to help with insecurities. The over-use of it is just a symptom of how our idea of beauty has become so narrow, and people, especially women are pressured to fit into that narrow idea.

  9. mkyarwood says:

    I begged, day and night, for a nose job from the time was 14. Kate Moss was my spirit animal, and 90210 definitely brought plastic surgery to the home front. I also have some actual corkscrew cartilege issues in my nose that made it a ‘necessary’ procedure. My parents caved on my 16th birthday, but by then, I’d lost some steam and realized that my face still had some growing to do, and also that they pretty much break your nose with a hammer. Your face is always changing, don’t you know, and it seems ill advised to go messing around with it too much. That being said, My mum is 67 now, and she has the family baggy eyes made of late nights, Italian genes and worrying about everyone else but herself and she’s just now considering getting them ‘ironed out’ as she puts it. Same with my gran — she had her eyes done at 65. If I ever get anything done, I think it’ll be that. My aquiline statue nose gets to stay.

    • Bianca says:

      Um, “Italian genes” give you baggy eyes? Sorry, but that’s just ridiculous. I’m probably overreacting, but I’m sick of cultural stereotyping. (I say this as an Italian with reddish hair, very fair skin, and almond-shaped green eyes. And I can’t think of an older relative of mine who actually has baggy eyes.)

  10. neelyo says:

    She has a heartbreaking moment on THE COMEBACK when she tells a childhood story about not fitting in. She probably mined her past for those emotions. I wasn’t a fan of FRIENDS but I think Kudrow is immensely talented and love her because of THE COMEBACK. If you have never seen it, Kudrow was phenomenal.

  11. Kelly says:

    I admire her refreshing honesty and support her decision since it’s obviously meant a great deal to her in a positive way. However, if I’m being honest, I like her “before nose” very much. Yes it’s big and unusual, but I still find it appealing and it made her face interesting, it gave her character.
    Her new nose is pretty but it makes her face look plastic, like a Barbie – which explains now why I’ve never warmed to her on screen, she’s always looked weird to me. Not to mention how it altered her face completely, unbelievable really, it’s like Jennifer Grey part 2. The difference being Kudrow was lucky to become famous after the nose job.
    I’m also certain Aniston did something to her face as well, never quite warmed to her either.

  12. serena says:

    I’ll call her Phoebe too, because I’ve started to like her from Friends. She seems a pretty great person and I’m not surprised to read that about her. Go Lisa!

  13. lucy2 says:

    I’ve always liked Lisa, and really like Web Therapy. It’s really different from anything else on TV.

    I give her credit for talking about this, and if it made a huge improvement in her life and gave her the confidence she desperately needed, and she’s still happy she did it, I don’t see anything wrong with it.

  14. PunkyMomma says:

    As someone who has had a nose job, I can totally agree with Lisa. My cartilage had been twisted in a car accident and the surgeon asked me what I wanted done. My heritage is Mediterranean and while my big, broken nose might be considered acceptable in Southern Europe, America judges women against the Barbie standard. So I told the surgeon to fix the damage and make my nose pretty. And he did. I was absolutely stunned when I returned to my job after the surgery. Every man I worked with gushed at how great I looked.

    It changed my life, but it also made me so angry that doors began to open for me because I changed my appearance.

  15. eliza says:

    I had a nose job and while it wasn’t life altering I am happy I did it. I was happier with myself after I did it and it looks natural, not like some Michael Jackson freak show stuff.

  16. Maureen says:

    I’ve always thought she has one of the worst nose jobs in the business (I think Sissy Spacek sits at #1 for the worst, so Lisa is maybe #2) but after reading her comments I really feel differently. I still think it’s an awful nose job but SHE loves it and it has made HER infinitely more happy than before she had it, so who am I to shade that? I’ll probably never think bad thoughts about her nose again. Well, I’ll try really hard not to.

  17. poppy says:

    ah, jr high school -proof there is a hell on earth.

    how awesome was/is her sister? and awesome how much she appreciates/ed it.
    although i always figured she was the more talented of the 3 ladies on friends, she flies off my radar. she’s going in the “good” book.

    re: nose job. at least she OWNS it.

  18. Decloo says:

    Her comment about anti-semitism at college is total BS. I went to the same college and we ran in the same circles. That school was, like, 65% New York jews and totally liberal.

  19. Virgilia Coriolanus says:

    I love this interview!

    I’ve only ever seen her in P.S I Love You, but I can’t wait to see her in Scandal–she’s playing as a Democrat who’s angling to become President.

    I didn’t know she was Jewish–but God that must’ve been awful. I’ve never really had a lot of friends (in fact I only have one friend now), and I’ve eaten lunch alone for most of my high school career–but I never had people outright ditching me either.

  20. Domestic_diva says:

    I don’t judge her nose job at all,especially if it’s really something guns he did for herself. And who’s to say she was trying to conform to others perception of beauty maybe she just wanted to like what she saw when she looked in a mirror. As women we all talk able this feminism but we judge other women because they don’t do what we feel is empowering. We’re all human and as such it’s about self. I. Not going to “stay ugly” because other women feel I’m conforming I’m going to do what I have to do to make me happy. I’m buying myself a butt after I have my baby.and I’m not doing it for anyone else I’ve been self conscious about having a flat butt since I can remember and now I’m doing something about it. Anybody in my world that says something about it can then kiss my new a**.

  21. mollie says:

    Old nose, new nose, to each his own….not against plastic surgery at all and I can see it helps loads of people to feel better about themselves. What I AM against, vehemently, is orange tan.
    She’s just too orange in that top pic and I find it aging and distracting.

  22. Asiyah says:

    I like her A LOT. I totally relate to her JHS story. It was the worse time of my life.

  23. Meggin says:

    I like her a lot. I can also relate to her JH school story. The meanest people were always the popular kids! I was way too mature for my age back then (almost to a not normal degree) and isolated from the mean kids and got picked on for it.

  24. LadySlippers says:

    @ Decloo (since I can’t reply either)

    If you’re not a Jew you probably wouldn’t ever see much of the more discrete form of anti-Semitism. But as a Jew, I can tell you that a lot of what I’ve experienced is very subtle, even in uber-liberal places. I have no doubt she was told that because I don’t know *any* Jew that hasn’t heard that during their lifetime — it’s a fairly ubiquitous Jewish experience.

    @ numerous other comments

    As for the nose-job, this is one of the cases where it was done ‘appropriately’. What I mean by that is it was a targeted surgery that didn’t spawn repeated surgeries chasing that tantalising dream of perfection that no one can achieve.

  25. msm says:

    I always thought her nose WASN’T done because it looked so beakish. That being said, it makes me kind of sad that she thought she looked “hideous” with what was probably a normal, albeit ethnic, nose. I wish more people would rock their more ethnic looks and, therefore, normalize them for the rest of the world. For instance, it irks my soul when I see Black women with the straight or blonde wigs/weaves. I think it sends a horrible message for the younger women growing up, i.e. that you are not “beautiful” unless you meet some Anglo standard, which, by reason of not being Anglo, you can never meet.

  26. Ginger says:

    That is a rough age. I was also ditched by friends in 6 and 7 grades. I had one younger friend and that was it. I told off my fair weather friends in front of everyone. My childhood sweetheart also broke up with me around the same time. I was at a private school and begged my Mom to let me go to public school in the 9th grade. From then on I had so many cool friends. The irionic part is that I’m friends today with a few of my private school pals including my childhood sweetheart. Live and learn…love and forgive…strife builds character and strength.

  27. Anon says:

    No wonder Lisa is good at seeing through mean-girl-types as an adult so quickly…friends. I’ve always liked Lisa, she looks great too.
    I hope no “friends” start insisting they “save” ‘Scandal’ with an appearance via favor to Lisa. Not like she hasn’t done so in the past.

  28. boo says:

    I’ve always really liked Lisa Kudrow for some reason. I was not a Friends fan, never watched it. I have seen her in some movies and she always plays people that are very low key, and funny in a certain way and I just like that she seems to be very real. I know that doesn’t explain it, but she seems like a real down to earth person and I like this.

  29. Kit says:

    Apparently Renee Zellweger got a ton of work done on her face:

    At least I *think* that’s her… she’s almost unrecognizable.

    I suppose the same *ssholes who ragged on her for having “squinty” eyes before will ridicule her even now. I think she looks ok but it’s kind of sad that she felt the need for such extreme measures. As long as she’s happy though, that’s the main thing.

  30. Anna Scott says:

    When I had my nose done, I began to believe that I had always looked the way I did after the surgery. It was a life altering experience and unless a person has a plastic surgery, it’s impossible to even imagine what that feels like.
    With that in mind, I don’t understand why celebrities deny they had work done. Plastic surgery is a huge deal. It’s expensive and it hurts like there is no tomorrow. Expecting people to believe that you nose changes when you lose weight, it’s beyond crazy. I had been thru different dress sizes, workout routines, diets, etc. My nose stayed the same until I had it done.

  31. India says:

    She has just about the most obvious nose job I have ever seen. I think her doctor got just a little bit too carried away with his craft.

  32. Jag says:

    I like how matter of fact she is, but one thing I don’t like is that she doesn’t qualify enough that “she” felt that her nose was hideous, instead of it was hideous. Young people who have a nose that looks like hers prior to surgery might think themselves hideous because of that.

    I had that happen to me with the “bump” on my nose; I never felt it was a problem until first grade when the teacher had a man come in to do silhouette profiles made out of black construction paper for all the children. Everyone else’s went swimmingly, but when I sat down and turned to profile, both the teacher and the man looked shocked and disgusted at each other. He ended up doing a traditional, straight-nose profile which I knew wasn’t mine. Looking at it afterward, I felt to my core that I wanted my nose to be changed, and I spent the next 25 years trying to never be viewed at a profile so that I wouldn’t “offend” classmates and other people.

    When I finally got my nose changed with cosmetic surgery at 31 years old, it was life-changing in that, in my mind, I could then be seen from all angles without being afraid of causing what I thought would be disgust in people. When I showed my friends the before and after photos, it did bother me when some said I was just as pretty before because all I could see was “hideous,” even though in reality it was fine because it’s a nose.

    So I do know what Lisa went through; I hope she makes it clear that her nose was perfectly fine before she changed it. Everyone has differing views of beauty, and she should make it clear that she is happy with her nose being HER standard now.

    • Kit says:

      Great post. I’m very sorry to hear about your experience in 1st grade and how it affected you for years afterwards, that’s horrible :( I have a slight bump on the bridge of my nose and became obsessed with the idea of getting a rhinoplasty at about age 14, but eventually came to accept it the way it was… took about a decade. I totally understand why some people go through with these types of surgeries though and don’t judge anyone for it, not even people like Michael Jackson… for those like *him* it’s more about pity than empathy, though. In such cases the problems go much, much deeper than most. It’s very sad.

  33. Selsie says:

    This interview is confusing, because I definitely read an interview that she did years ago where she talked about her nose job, saying that she had always been less than thrilled with the results of her surgery and regretted having it. As someone who’s had a nose job and considers it the best thing they ever did for themselves I totally empathize with what she says about the subject in this current interview, but it is strange that it contradicts what she’s said in the past.