Here’s the deal, I’ve got a real hot streak of GLAMOUR shots on my driver’s license and I’m not ready or willing to give that self-imposed title up just yet. (My passport photos are another story, anyone except Taylor Swift who knows how to closed mouth smile and NOT look like a serial killer, get @ me with some tips.) These are supposed to be my peak years and I’m RAPIDLY approaching the swift drop on that rollercoaster, so I really need to capture it when I can. On my driver’s license is really the best way to do so. It’s a government issued document and one that I’ll have to show to a stranger every single time I enter a bar or order an adult bevvy. That’s a lot of eyes on one pic, and I say that knowing that I’ve never gotten more than 15 likes on anything I’ve ever posted on social media. ID PHOTOS ARE ALL I HAVE ANYMORE. I never thought this day would come.
On my 16th birthday, I took my driver’s test—told no one I was taking it so I didn’t have to tell them if I failed (old hockey trick)—and looked like a youthful babe soda in my very first license photo. I had a pre-summer tan, styled hair and an adorable teal dress. All of which could be seen as it was proportionately distanced and sized. In fact, anytime a friend, foe or stranger brought up their dreadful license photo, I paraded that shit around for all to see. Oh you look like you just drowned your kids in a bathtub in your photo? I look like a beauty queen, READ IT AND WEEP BITCHES!
It might be suggested that I annoyed everyone with how much I worked my ID into a conversation. I almost didn’t want to get a fake ID in college for fear of having a fake hideous photo. Fortunately, my sister provided my “fake” and she also takes a great pic. When I turned 21, I did everything in my power to keep my original photo. Unfortunately I was met with much frustration and eye rolls at the dear ole DMV. I took a shitty temp pic until I could get myself home to where my mom had recently become employed at the DMV and promised a full photoshoot to get the right headshot. I cannot stress this enough, I recommend everyone has a relative working at the DMV. Not only did I not have to wait in line and suffer years of my life in that soul-sucking place but I literally got to treat my license photo like a JCPenney portrait shoot minus the kickass 90’s backdrops. Plus my mom knows all of my best angles and I got as many reshoots as I demanded. Another stellar ID was created. Note the carefully curated white lace tank to once again, pop that bronze glow. (PRO tip.)
And now here we are in my 29th year, license expired. Thanks to COVID, I was able to push that renewal back for a solid 5 months before I could go into the DMV again safely. And you better BELIEVE I planned on preparing for this appointment with a full blowout and face of makeup after months of being a loungewear shut-in. Unfortunately for all involved, when the day arrived, I had a friend in town and poorly planned our morning. Eager to fit a scenic 14 mile bike ride in and soak up the sun before my appointment, I let the morning get away from me and all of a sudden I had 15 minutes to shower, dry my hair, put on makeup, curl my hair and pick out the perfect outfit to enhance my summer tan. On the 30 minute drive back to my house (in the opposite direction of the DMV) I began to panic that I would become * insert tone of absolute disgust here*: an UGLY ID holder. And not just like casual caught off guard for a pic ugly…unshowered, hair pulled up under a hat, just sweat my ass off in a high speed bike ride to try and make up for my poor time management, no makeup, in a tee with visible pit stains kind of UGLY. I wondered how horrible it would be to cancel my appointment. Or just commit to it and then immediately change my photo at a later date. All of these options were either incredibly inconvenient or more expensive. This is when I really had to look inward and have a stern talk with myself about what was important here. How I look in a photograph that’s the size of a stamp or keeping an appointment it took me a month to get for the renewal of my driver’s license that had been expired for almost half a year now. The answer was my looks and that is the most obvious thing on this earth. Having been born with naturally curly hair that I let air-dry, I cannot allow myself to be photographed within a few hours of my daily shower or I’ll look like ole ramen-head ass Justin Timberlake that immediately turned into a meme because of HOW BAD IT LOOKED. So it’s not even like I could trim time off of my prep by leaving my locks au naturel.
I arrived home and I’ve never gotten ready faster in my entire life. And you know what? I looked like a 10. From the front. I never dried my hair in the back. Too time consuming and the back of my head will never be featured on an ID. I selected a teal dress to accentuate the new race I had become from 4 straight months of baking in the sun and even tossed on my custom-made Salty Ju jean jacket on top of that for clout. All of my fans and supporters (my sister and my friend) applauded my Herculean effort to transform myself into a top model in 15 minutes flat. I expected paparazzi to be hiding in the bushes when I exited my house, shoveling peanut butter crackers in my cracker hole because I skipped lunch in favor of my looks. I got to the DMV with two minutes to spare and ready to do the cover of Vogue, should Rosie at counter 8 impromptu ask me to. We got the long-awaited photo out of the way first and when I tell you it was horrific, that is an understatement. It turns out, no matter how GREAT I look (or dress…my outfit didn’t even graze the photo), if you close crop my head in the square, there is REALLY no positive way to spin that. Rosie snapped away and showed me the pic for review where my jaw resided on the ground. I didn’t think it was possible to look like the poster child for my 600 lb life and yet a super zoom WILL DO THAT. My chins were abundant and falling out of frame as the square went from my forehead to my first chin, also giving me a buzz cut in the process–so much for drying and curling my precious locks. That was a proportion that Rosie felt comfortable with and to be honest I would’ve asked for a reshoot, but I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to and it looked like the camera setup would be permanently unforgiving. I had just carefully curated a look and an outfit for a MEGAHEAD PHOTO THAT I’LL BE STUCK WITH FOR THE NEXT 10 YEARS. But don’t worry, the guy at counter 10 who processed my renewal told me it’s a great photo and he doesn’t just tell everyone that. He also complimented my nail polish so obviously he was just trying to bang me. My perfect ID photo streak has come to an abrupt and aggressive end and I will forever curse this stupid day. Ten years from now, I’m bringing my own photographer.
And as if NY State wasn’t cruel enough, they double up on your mug, hologram style. So that Salty Ju Megahead can also float in space on the right side of my ID reminding me to invest in a neckline slimmer.