Driver’s License Photo Shoot

beauty, life

Five years ago, I lived in West LA and visited the Santa Monica branch of the DMV to get the address on my driver’s license updated. The stars must have aligned on that glorious day, because there was no line, my home-styled blow out miraculously did not deflate and frizz out, the DMV rep adjusted the camera height and angle to fit my giraffe frame, minimizing the protrusion of my gregarious double chin which loves a good photo op, let me inspect every photo taken, and took a final photo that was just hazy enough to make any imperfections be blurred out. When I received my new driver’s license in the mail, I was thrilled to see I resembled an actual female in her late 20s and not the typical “greasy convict with a drug addiction” which is the default photo profile in all of my other official documents.

I vowed to guard this photo for life and never update it. From that day forth, I renewed my license or updated my address online if possible and if not, asked to keep my current photo. Until that fateful day when in addition to updating my address, I stupidly requested my contact lens restriction be removed since I got LASIK. That was a bad day.

Visiting the Thousand Oaks DMV branch this time, I was expecting to fill out some forms to reflect my new 20/20 vision and be mailed an updated driver’s license with my much beloved hazy photo intact. I was not expecting to be instructed to go stand in the photo line to get a new photo. Harried, with unwashed hair secured in a brain-numbingly tight bun, no makeup on, and a wrinkled blouse, I was not prepared to be anywhere near a camera lens that day. When the reality of the situation hit me, I realized my error.

“You know, on second thought, let’s just leave that restriction in place. No need to change it. Sorry! Ha, ha!” I nervously stammered to the DMV rep.

“Ma’am, you just told me you got LASIK and you want to remove the corrective lens restriction from your license. Did you or did you not have corrective surgery?”

“I did.”

“Ok, well then you’ll need to get in that line over there and get a new photo taken. That’s the policy. You have to get a new photo taken.”

“But I don’t want to!”

I know how ridiculous I must have seemed to that DMV rep. A grown woman so vain that she couldn’t part with her old driver’s license photo. I wish I could tell you I realized in that moment that I should own my beauty or lack thereof and who cares about a driver’s license photo anyways, I was a fearless, confident female, who was going to channel her inner Beyoncé to work that camera lens in all of her rumpled greasy glory. Instead, I darted to the restroom and furiously dug in my purse to find whatever beauty products I had on hand. Safely sequestered in a stall, I tried to coax what little photogenic attributes I had that day to the surface of my face with my mascara wand and powder puff. The finished product was uninspiring at best. I gave myself a little pep talk.

Eyes, you need to pop!

Eyelashes, thicken and lengthen.

Teeth, brighten.

Lips, channel Kylie Jenner. But channel her when she finally got the ratio of lip filler-to-face more or less correct. Once she resembled a Bratz doll and not a Bravo Housewives of Beverly Hills/Orange County cast member. I know there’s barely a distinction there, but I’m all about precision.

Hamster Cheeks, let’s try to suck yourselves in as much as possible even though we all know you guys are a lost cause.

Hair, I’m at a complete loss with you lot today. You’re greasy and limp and I absolutely can’t let you out of your bun jail because that would just be a travesty. But in your bun jail, you make me look bald and accentuate Hamster Cheeks and Gregarious Double Chin.

Gregarious Double Chin, don’t you dare surface today. You better hug Jaw Bones so tightly, that you become one. Unless you somehow manage to work yourself down to Boobs, I’m going to Kybella you out of existence as soon as I win the lottery.

Jaw Bones, do you even exist? Where are you guys? I need some angles!

Brain, why do you need so much sleep? If you didn’t keep propelling Hand to hit the snooze button five times, I could have had enough time to shower and actually make myself presentable and we wouldn’t be in this sad predicament now. You are needy and too demanding with your nightly eight hours of sleep requests. I hate you right now, Brain.

With that pep talk in place, I approached the fat bald man operating the DMV camera. One look at him and I knew with a sinking heart that there would be no driver’s license photo shoot that day.

“Sir, since I’m quite tall, could you pull the camera up to get a more flattering angle?”


“Oh. Um, could you then maybe just tilt it down a bit while I squat?”

“No. You’re done. You can go now.”

“Wait, what? Can I look at the photo you took?”



“Ma’am, it’s just a driver’s license photo.”

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