Saturday, February 6, 2010

Passport to the Danger Zone

I didn't really have anything to blog about today, but luckily I decided to get a passport photo taken.

And now it is just past 4 pm and I am having a cocktail.

Yes, it is that bad. You can scroll down now if you want to, but I recommend coming with me on a little stumble down memory lane first.

Passport photos did not always make me want to go into hiding, or to move someplace where face-covering burkhas are de rigeur. In fact, my first passport photo at age 2 was downright precious:

Despite the fact that I'm not looking directly into the camera and have Children of the Corn eyes, this remains my most flattering passport photo to date.

I have this hanging on my wall, along with my parents' passport photos from that same session. Looking at my parents might have cautioned me that anyone over the age of ten should just stay in the country.

Sorry for posting this Mom and Dad! I get my comeuppance a little farther down, I promise.

My dad looks like he's getting a prostate exam. My mom looks pretty... pretty stoned!

My next passport, taken at age 13, I cannot find. I looked all over my apartment, I swear. In it, I am wearing a pinstriped oversize men's dress shirt beneath a salmon-colored sweatshirt. My unibrow is in full effect, I am grinning (revealing my royal blue-colored braces), and I am also gazing inexplicably upwards, as if trying to beam the full Care Bare Stare of my adolescent awkwardness straight to Jesus.  I am actually really bummed that I cannot post this terrible photo, as it might ease the pain of the photo taken today.

Here's an approximation:

I call this "The Fran Lebowitz."

Then of course my next passport bore the disaffected photo I posted as party of my New Year's reflection on my twenties:

Which brings us to today's photo. Before I show it to you, I'd like to preemptively blame a few things.
  1. I blame the weather, which forced me to wear a wool hat all day that flattened out my hair, which I still haven't learned how to blow dry properly.
  2. I blame my employer, for not paying me enough for me to afford to cut said hair on a regular basis. My coif currently resembles Medusa's after a week in the woods with no shampoo.
  3. I blame the cartilage in my nose for continuing to grow as I age.
  4. I blame my mirror, for failing to adequately reflect the way I looked as I left the house. Had I known I looked like this, I never would have left, would have started drinking immediately, and probably would have attempted to give myself Botox using the Gorilla glue in the pantry.
  5. I blame the photo-taking man, who forbade me to smile. Obviously I would have looked exactly like Catherine Zeta-Jone if I had only been allowed to show my teeth.
Okay, here it is. I am putting aside all of my vanity to post this.

Doesn't this look suspiciously like a mug shot? If I told you I had been arrested for getting stoned and driving through a car wash with the top down, would you doubt me for even ONE SECOND?

Also, see what happens when I try to look like a sailor?  Note to self: IT DOES NOT MAKE YOU LOOK JAUNTY. IT MAKES YOU LOOK JAUNDICED.

Oh, and the worst part? They're multiplying:

I think it goes without saying that I am going to eat the $10 and not send this to the government. If I had to look at this every time I got ready to board an airplane, the resulting death wish might give the flight bad juju.



  1. I had to get passport pics taken recently too. I was hair needed a wash and I was NOT in a good mood.

    Not smiling wasn't a problem.

    I resembled an ogre....a grumpy grumpy ogre.

    I think you look delightful, but I too am gutted that you couldn't find your salmon unibrow photo!


  3. Laughed hard throughout the entire post. :)

    I swear, it's not humanly possible (at least for ME) to take a decent passport or drivers license photos. Even if I feel somewhere near "attractive" when I leave the house to renew the ol' license or get a passport pic taken...something happens and I look nast. (I think the thing that happens is I blink; would it really be so hard for the people to count to 3 for me before taking the snapshot? It's a sickness with me, and I close my eyes in somewhere around 40% of my pictures; according to my brother, at least.)

    My mom would kill me if I put up pictures of her without her permission first. Seriously. I'd be dead meat! :)

  4. o.k. - the post is hilarious, and the pic is not great, but you really should be nicer to yourself. Your brows look great & your skin is clear... I on the other hand currently bear the dreaded unibrow (my esthitician was busy today, and I had to choose between brow & bikini... it's a date night, so........), and I am in the midst of a teenage-style breakout even though my teen years are long gone. phooey.

  5. I absolutely died when you commentated your parent's faces! Best ever! haha

  6. Seriously, it's not soo bad. I work in a photo lab
    and take passport pics ALL day. Some are horrid
    and some are true. But everone looks like a crim!!
    Everyone. Models, sweet old ladies even kids.
    I mean if you got arrested and actually had a mug
    shot taken, it would probably be more flattering.
    If you do get it redone just don't lie and say it got
    rejected, we can tell when you're lying. Also HEAPS
    of people look like they are gunna slide into a
    massive depression when I give them the photo, men
    are the worst ( middle aged men) hah! Makes me smile everytime!

  7. Whatever brows you had as a child led to a great pair now!

    I think my next passport or drivers license photo taking day will include:

    A black V-neck
    Heavy make up
    Tilted chin

    Because I know I am older than you are.

  8. Anonymous6:48 PM

    Oh Una! You're still lovely. But this made me snarf my tea. You have no idea how many photos of myself - not even passport or license photos! - have horrified me to the point that I MIGHT have even shed a tear or two, thinking, so THAT'S what I look like?!? But really, that photo doesn't look like the real you!
    Love always! -Anna

  9. I think it is pretty unusual to have saved all this- tend to shred up all my old stuff- bury the evidence of the past-and the passport photo is I think 10 years worth- I guess when I go for renewal I better doll myself up-

  10. You husband is a PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER, Una. Your passport photo does not need to be taken at the local post office, etc. It just needs to be the right size and have a white background. It tells you on the website/mail-in form. Then you mail the 2 copies in with the form and they turn one into your passport.

    Burn that mug shot. Burn it NOW!

  11. i randomely found u today and i have not laughed out loud from a text of thoughts EVER!!I, too, am astounded at the view i get from the camera vs. the mirror. A mug shot would probably never have such a nice smile. You are hilarious. Maureen Rose

  12. gold!

    my dad told me once that passport and drivers licence photos look the way they do so you can be easily identified whilst lying dead in a ditch somewhere!

  13. the thing that scares me the most is that I had my passport photo taken in 08 (it looks scarily similar to your 13 year old photo except my braces are green) and I get to keep it for another 3 years.

    gotta love being a teenager.

  14. LOL!!! That's hysterical... The last picture that my husband had to take made him look like a pedophile unibomber... it was THAT bad. He gets stopped almost every time he flies internationally! :p

  15. You made me laugh...I just had to go get my drivers license photo retaken....I blame the 7am time so I could wait in the winding line around the building on a Saturday morning b/c my employer does not allow DMV appts....sigh....Here's to great memories with our mug shot pictures!

  16. ha! I don't think anyone likes their passport picture...I know I don't like mine either...

  17. Chrisy in Chicago9:34 PM

    I still hold on to the claim that my passport pic is the worst. I look like Nick Nolte's mugshot from a few years ago. It's really scary and it was completely expected after having lost my passport the night before my trip and stayed up all night tearing my house apart looking for it. It's bad. Bad bad.

  18. Your passport pic turned out fine! You have such nice skin.

    My last passport photo was taken in an automatic photobooth in Paris because my passport was stolen there. My skin looked terrible, my hair was gross, and the colouring made it really look like a mugshot. And the passport people made me extend this temporary passport (with said ugly photo) from one year to five years! During this period of time (late teens to early twenties) I have done my most travelling ever and despise showing many a cute customs officer the photo that no longer looks like me. It expires in March. I cannot wait.

  19. Hahaha. You don't look that bad. Being more photogenic than Nick Nolte is always a good thing.

    I'm barely above the "Nolte line" most days and I'm thankful for just

  20. At least when they multiply, they get slightly smaller?

    Don't worry, the picture isn't that bad.

  21. I feel your pain!!

    I just recently got a new drivers license (took me freakin FOR-E-VER to get it mind you).

    When I finally jumped through all the hoops they wanted me to go through I went up to take the picture and the lady says to me, "Smile, but dont smile."

    What the fuck? As Im standing there Im thinking, "Smile...but dont smile? How do I do that?" So now I have this horrible picture of me looking confused, maybe constipated with a mixture of retarded in there.

    At least getting your passport photo redone is easier than going to the DMV.

  22. Okay, I don't know you but I do get the sense that you are quite capable of a much lovelier photo! (And when you get one made, you'll still post something hilarious about it.)

  23. If it makes you feel any better I'm pretty sure if I had one of these taken today my chin would be missing.

    Anywho, looking like a sailor pretty much = jaundice, does it not? Or was that scurvey? Either way lemon yellow is involved. I say draw in an eyepatch and a parrot and send it in anyway. Maybe you'll get lucky and someone bored with their job will overlook it and then you'll be in posession of the most wicked passport EVARrrrrrrrgh!

  24. Anonymous12:32 AM

    Girl...It happens to the best of us.

    I once took such a bad passport photo (circa age 13) that my mother- undoubtedly the nicest woman in all of Minnesota- who has devoted her life to helping poverty stricken special needs children with speech impediments on Native American Indian reservations and was blessed by Mother Theresa as a child (I'm telling you, my momma is a freakin' saint)- told me the reason we were detained at border patrol was because I looked retarded and middle-aged in my passport picture. Yep. Seriously.

    And I'm pretty!

    You are too.

    P.S. LOVE the blog.
    P.P.S. I also was born with a unibrow.

  25. The pictures don't look that bad. You're making them horrible yourself.

    Although you made my day with the story.

    In the Netherlands, all passport photos are horrible. You're not allowed to smile, your hair has to be behind your ears because they need to see the width of your face (thus giving you elephant ears). And you wouldn't be surprised if you were holding a serial number since you would look more "happy" on your mugshot.

  26. hello

    visit your blog hello

  27. Nearly upchucked my poptart this morning! Too funny, but your photo is really not bad. As Tyra says, you are not "smizing" though. I will make you feel better by telling you that my first 3 passport photos were taken by photographers that ALL told me I looked like one of the little girls in The Shining. My latest, though in my mind I was a Top Model, looks as though I am having a colonoscopy off camera.

  28. Anonymous7:57 AM

    I was expecting much worse after the lead-in. It's not so bad. Susan Atkins did totally randomly come to mind, but I'm sure it had nothing to do with your photo. Question: If they are going to print multiple photos, shouldn't they let you have multiple poses? Totally unfair, that's what that is.

  29. You are too funny!!! Thank goodness for us, you went to get your photo taken, so you would have some great material for your post today. I love your blog!


  30. Haha! You guys are cracking me up with your stories of passport photos from hell.

    Seriously, you totally made me re-think chopping off all my hair and getting a nose job.

    Also, thank you to everyone who said I had nice skin. In fact, I have been breaking out terribly lately (insult to injury) and so had spackled my face with concealer. Good to know it's working and that no one knows my secret...

    I am so vain that I am going to have to post a better photo of myself soon, though. I'm so vain, I think that Carly Simon song is about me. Well, me or Warren Beatty.

  31. I love this post! My passport photo also looks like a mugshot. Mostly because I went el cheapo and decided to get it at Walmart. Bad move on my part.

    P.S. I had the exact same dress when I was 2.

  32. I came here on a whim from Blog of Note and enjoyed myself hugely! Hon, if you think you look bad in your photos, you should see mine. Do you ever get mistaken for a man? No? There ya go then. I'm leaving laughing, but I'll be back.

  33. HAHAHA! You're a great writer. Also- passport photos are supposed to be awful. I've never had a good one. You're in the norm!


  34. The photo guy IS to blame. Really. The light is hitting your face from above causing those big shadows under your eyes (and everywhere else). Not only that, but he needed to use more light. Seriously, if he'd use more light (and better positioned light — this is key) you'd probably be much happier with the photo.

  35. I always end up looking like a) and Eastern European victim of human trafficking (when my hair is dark) or b)like I'm twelve when my hair is light.

    It seems to me that passport photo day always coincides with late-out-of-bed-cold-ridden-raining-day...

    The law of sod in action.

  36. In my first passport photo, taken at age 15, I had gorgeous, straight, shiny dark hair. Which blended perfectly into the chocolate brown velour turtleneck I had chosen to wear that day. To summarize, it's an awkward teenage face with a unibrown and splotchy skin surrounded by brown. Where is my neck!

    My current one is not much better. I've had brain surgery, which has left my smile (real smile, and passport non-smile) permanently lopsided, unless my husband whispers "vagina" or "Santorum" into my ear before I get a picture taken. And my bangs were rebelling against any attempts at hair styling, because I, too, have not learned to use a blow dryer.

    Sigh. All this we do to take our American selves overseas to serve as model citizens.

  37. Mine's horrible too--really, horrible. I look high as a kite, because the camera flash always makes me blink my eyes, so my photo has me mid-blink and I looked ridulous.

  38. OMG!!

    I've just remembered some horrific photos my sister and I had done as kids, for our National Trust 'passports'.

    I'm almost positive my sister would scream if I tried to post hers, but if I can find these beauties I'll post mine up at least...they're too good an opportunity to miss!

    And they'll make you feel like Miss World :)

  39. Here's the awesome thing about bad passport photos, and the reason you should always attempt the worst POSSIBLE pic ...

    Everywhere you go, when they check your passport, they'll look up, shocked, and say "Wow, you're a lot prettier than this photo."

    To which you can smile and reply, "Oh, I don't know about that, but gracias!"

    Thus in one three-second conversation you get a compliment from a stranger AND an opportunity to show off how completely humble you are!

  40. I am so vain that when it came time to get my passport photo done, I found a way to do it myself at home so that I'd be sure to look pretty. I took he picture in front of my washing machine (for the white background) and photoshopped out all my blemishes/flyaways. I know you aren't supposed to photoshop your passport photo, but it's not like they look at it with a microscope, and it was worth it.

    Next, I googled "passport photo software" and for a few bucks, downloaded software to crop my photo to the correct dimensions/face size. Definitely worth the time and effort to keep customs agents from judging me!

  41. So Hilarious. What a way with words. I enjoy your posts and sens of humor very much.

  42. You're adorable Sassy. You gotta see my passport/license/etc. photos - I always look like I'm being stabbed in them.

  43. Anonymous3:45 PM

    Lol, you are too funny. The pic is really not so terrible but if you don't like it, there is a solution. Get your talented hubby to take a pic of you at home in front of a white wall and print it off a memory key at CVS in passport size. Then you take as many pics as you want until you get it just right. And your hair won't have to brave the winter mess that is NYC. XO - VN

  44. Anonymous6:52 PM

    Does anyone else think this pic looks like the Octomom? Who, btw, I think is kinda purty. My latest passport photo is atrocious. As it turns out, I don't look as good in orange as I thought. Oofa. LOVE your PR posts!

  45. #5 almost made me spit my coffee all over the keyboard. Thank you [???] for sharing. You are brave... I'll give you that. :)

  46. My driver's license picture is a similar beast. I also fell victim to the forbidden smile/flattening hair w/ a hat duo. As a bonus, I added an entirely-too-deep side part reminiscent of a comb over (previously obscured by hat). I think I've actually had a mugshot photo look better than this! I believe my exact words, upon seeing this wretched reproduction of my visage, were "Damn, I look like I eat babies for breakfast."

  47. When I saw my passport photo for the first time I seriously wondered if I'd even looked in the mirror that day. And then I went home and stared deeply into it.. thinking... really? Aaaaaggggggggh!

    How do they manage to do that to faces?

  48. Your recent passport photo reminds me a bit of Nadya Suleman. Happy birthday, Octuplets!

  49. Anonymous3:12 AM

    Your passport photo will be popular at the customs desk in Syria when you travel there this year.

  50. You passport photo before this last one (when enlarged) looks like you have suffered a gunshot wound to the neck and right shoulder...yet curiously, no blood...were you a vampire back then??

    Funny post!


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