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Lea Michele Says She Was Pressured to Get a Nose Job as a Teen Actor

The Glee star was told she wouldn't be "pretty enough" for movies and TV without one.

With a starring role in Broadway's Funny Girl, one of Lea Michele's biggest dreams has come true. But on her way to stardom, the singer and actor dealt with some naysayers, particularly when it came to her appearance. In a new interview with Town & Country, Michele says she was told to get a nose job when she was younger, because without one, she wouldn't be "pretty enough" to star on TV or in movies. Read on to see what the Glee star had to say about pushing back against these kind of comments.

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Michele was told to get a nose job when she was still a child.

Lea Michele at the 2022 Tony Awards
lev radin / Shutterstock

In her interview with Town & Country, Michele said that early in her career "people would tell [her] to get nose jobs, that [she] wasn't pretty enough for film and television." The magazine notes that comparisons between Michele and Streisand, who has also spoken out about not changing her recognizable nose, were "inevitable." Michele said of Streisand, "She was an icon for me in my life."

Now, Michele has a personal connection with the star. Streisand originated the role of Funny Girl's Fanny Brice in the 1964 musical and played the part again in the 1968 movie adaptation. She sent Michele something that she now treasures. "It was a beautiful, hand-written note that I will cherish. She was incredibly complimentary," the 36-year-old said. "It exists. It happened, and now I feel like so many dreams can come true."

She was already playing roles on Broadway when the comments began.

Lea Michele and Paul Dano photographed for the Toronto Star in 1996
Ron Bull/Toronto Star via Getty Images

In 2019, Michele talked to Today about the pressure she was under to get a nose job.

"I love my nose because it's mine," she said. "Growing up, I worked on Broadway and I always wanted to transition into possibly doing film and television. From a very young age, I must've been maybe only 13 years old, I started being told by managers and agents that in order to make it on television or be on covers of magazines that I was going to have to get a nose job."

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She walked out of the office of a manager who suggested surgery.

Lea Michele at the FOX Fall Eco-Casino Party in 2011
DFree / Shutterstock

During a 2014 appearance on Chelsea Lately, Michele called out a manager she met with for focusing on her appearance.

"They were like 'How old are you?' [I said] 13, they said 'Great, as soon as you turn 15, it's time for a nose job,'" Michele said (via ABC News). "We were like 'Okay, we are out of here!' Obviously I didn't get it done. Wherever she is, I mean she can go [expletive] herself, so."

She's glad she never gave in.

Lea Michele at the Hollywood Reporter and SAG-AFTRA Emmy Nominees Night in 2019
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Michele told Today that she's happy with her decision and knows that her career might have played out differently had she gotten surgery.

"I think that people should be able to make their own choices. If that's something that someone wants to do, then great; it's your body and it's your choice. But no one was going to make that choice for me. And I didn't want to do that," she said. "I wanted to look at my face and have it be my face. And why I'm so grateful that I chose that—made that decision and stuck true to what was right for me—was because I did move to Los Angeles and I ended up landing a role that, maybe if I had looked different, I wouldn't have gotten the job."

"I wouldn't have been able to play Rachel Berry [on Glee], and my whole life would be different. It really was a big turning point for me many years ago," she continued. She also said that the feature makes her think of someone special. "And, yeah, when I look at my nose it reminds me of my dad and he has a really big nose. And I just love it. And it's mine," the star said.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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