TGIW: The dreaded driver’s license photo

by Libby Sternberg

Advice for the day: Do not settle.

What my driver's license photo often resembled.

What my driver’s license photo often resembled.

Year after year, I’ve reconciled myself to the awful mug-shot-like driver’s license photos that dampen any joy one might experience at the moment one must pull the darned license out for identification.  I could be purchasing the Best Outfit Evah, absolutely sure it will Change My Life in Epic Ways, filled with the elation that justifiably accompanies such a momentous occasion, but then…”Could I see your driver’s license, please?” The ID check brings the awesomeness to a screeching halt. Out it comes, and there, staring me and the store clerk in the eyes is The Truth–this woman cannot possibly have her life changed in epic ways by ANYTHING because she looks like a fugitive. I half expect the sales clerk to say–after an embarrassed little titter, of course –“What, they didn’t have any more orange jumpsuits that day?” Ah-ha-ha. Ha. Ahem.

Three years ago, I made the mistake of having my license photo taken sans wig. My hair was scalp-close then, see, because of a treatment that rhymes with dreamotherapy but is kind of the opposite. I thought at the time that this shorn-locks look would be a triumphant remembrance of the victory I felt at the end of that treatment slog, a badge of honor, sort of like a tattoo that one gets to mark a significant act of bravery.

And it did serve that purpose. For a while. Then I got awfully tired of dragging out that photo and wondering what people thought when they saw it. (Most likely: Good lord, who was her hairdresser and how can I avoid them?)

What I aspire to look like in my driver's license photo.

What I aspire to look like in my driver’s license photo.

So, this year, no mug shot for me. Nuh-uh. No shorn locks. No staring into the camera like the proverbial deer in the Ugly-Magnifying headlights.

First up: makeup. Not just everyday makeup, but eeeeeevvvvvvening makeup. The kind you used to wear on dates. Or the first year you were married. A nice foundation, some subtly applied rouge to your cheekbones, once you locate them again, and then….eye shadow , eye liner (quick, straight lines above and below), mascara (the volumizing kind advertised in those commercials that make skimpy eyelashes sound like a physical disability for which there is a government program!).

Second up: Clothes. Pick out your best top. I recommend sparkly, chiffony, satiny or something pink. In my case, it was a Chicos purchase from a couple years ago, something I bought not on sale to celebrate a book deal optioned for film, that has so many sparkles around the neckline that you have to wash it by hand. (Not that I ever do, mind you. Wash it, that is.) Wear any ole jeans or scruffy pants or skirt. It’s only the shoulders up that count.

Thirdly: Accessorize. Since my top was sufficiently bedazzled, I opted for no necklaces, but I wore the shimmering earrings I’d sported at my son’s wedding two years ago.

Wear sparkly jewelry!

Everything’s better with sparkly jewelry.

Fourthly: Hair.  Two words: Curling iron.  Oh, two more: Hair spray. Nuff said.

The result, I have to say, was all I could have wanted. The photographer complimented me. I was ready for my close-up, and I only needed one take. And…I look like someone who is not headed for a penal colony. I’ll proudly whip out that photo now.

So, do not settle for those dull, ugly driver’s license photos. Go fabulous. I only wish I’d taken my feather boa…..

Libby Sternberg is a novelist. She likes sparkly things but can only afford them if you buy her books.

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