New School vs. Old School
One thing you should probably know about Doubleawk is that she’s a fiery feminist, always ready to point out (and blame) the power of the patriarchy for one wrong or another.
But another thing you should know about Doubleawk is that she likes to look pretty. True, she might not always (ever) shave her legs (not b/c she is a feminist, but because she is lazy and practically hairless), she forgets to brush her teeth, and she plays fast and loose even with the shower every other day rule. But when it comes to nighttime, or to having her picture taken, she likes to be seen in a cute outfit, heels, and a face full o’ make up. Blame the patriarchy.
So when the New School, which she will be attending for her MFA in nonfiction (starting a week from today!), told her she could send in a photo of her choosing for her student ID, she grabbed the camera and started posing. She didn’t even wait for photog hubby to come home, but took pictures of herself. Why not use a preexisting photo? Well, the ID folks had specific parameters; plus, picking the right photo was a complicated calculus. She couldn’t look like she’d picked the best photo of herself. It had to be a natural looking photo, with enough make up to be pretty but not so much as to look like she was wearing any. So she took, like, a billion photos, each one not quite right–one too shiny, one with a creepy smile, one from too far away. And she had bags under her eyes.
A bit of cover-up, and finally, she got one she could live with. But the excessive glow and under-eye satchels continued. What’s a girl to do?
It’s called retouching, and once you start, it’s hard to stop.
I swore I’d tell no one. Then I sent it in, and afterward felt the caffeine-like buzz of an irrevocable secret, like midday cookie binging or a crowded-train fart.
Let me say this again:
I retouched my school ID photo. I’m a thirty-one year-old self-proclaimed feminist and I airbrushed my school ID photo. And then I admitted it to you.
So today, when I went to pick up my ID, I was excited to see how it turned out / nervous that the retouching would be obvious and people would judge me. This is the New School, after all, where I should be super-comfortable with my appearance, esp. if said appearance involves tribal facial piercings. But I digress.
The man who went to retrieve my ID hesitated. Oh, God! I thought! Does it look so young that it doesn’t look like me? Then I saw it.
This Leda Eizenberg was younger than I am, to be sure, but that wasn’t the problem. She was blonde.
“That’s not me,” I said.
“I didn’t think so,” he replied. “But it’s ok. You’ll just have to get a new photo taken. They’re taking photos today.”
“Can’t I just resend my old photo?”
“It’ll be faster to retake it.” He clearly wanted to help the next student in the line that had built up behind me.
“But it was a really cute picture.” I tried to do the funny, goofy thing.
“This one will be even better! It’s exciting–your first day of school and all!” The woman next to him chimed in.
Do I look like an eager freshman? I thought. “But, but…” I was desperate. “It’s hot out. I’m sweaty.”
They shook their heads.
I kept trying. “I’m not wearing make-up,” I mock whispered. “I haven’t even showered.” When they looked at me like I was crazy, I tried another tactic. “Will there be a huge line?”
“I’ll call them now and tell them to let you go straight in.” He pulled out his phone. I was dismissed.
Naturally, I got hotter and sweatier on my six block walk to the building where photos were being taken. I had mascara and a kind of ugly lip gloss on me, so I ducked into a bathroom to apply, then sat down in the hall, popped open my lap-top, and resent the original photo just in case they would make me a new ID using it.
Predictably, a mob had formed, consisting mostly of young co-eds, all pretty and made up, not one tribal piercing in sight; maybe I had the wrong impression of my new school.
They whisked me in for a new photo, ignored my pleas that they use my old one, and took my picture. As I waited for my ID to be printed, I emailed John:
The stupid new school put a blonde girl on my id, so I had to take a new photo, and I’m sweaty, unshowered, and only had mascara and lip gloss in my purse.
So much for my retouching efforts.
(In a weak moment, I had confessed my retouching to him about a month after submitting the photo).
I’m sure you look beautiful! Also, your obsession with how you look on useless photo ids is possibly problematic.
Well, honey, one out of two ain’t bad. I fully acknowledge that it’s problematic. It’s just that when I look good in an official photo, I feel like it’s official proof that I’m good looking. Young in an official photo? Officially still young.
To quote another woman who set back the feminist movement 100 years, “You betcha!”
On the bright side, this goof-up saved me the trouble of having to argue with people about whether my (undated) ID was current when trying to get student discounts.
On the not-so-bright side, I’ve just revealed myself as terribly shallow.
Blame the patriarchy. Or blame my awkwardness. Better yet, let’s just blame the bags under my eyes.