“Do you certify that this accurately represents yourself and your likeness?” she asked, and held the photograph up to my eye line.
Squinting at the photo, I saw through the polite veil of her question—or rather, her threat. She hadn’t fooled me for a second, for I immediately sensed the very real and very ominous subtext to her seemingly innocent, so-called “routine” prompt. The second she extended her arm, putting me face-to-face with my own face, she was forcing me to choose: either commit to a likeness of photographic misery or forfeit my identity as a sojourner of the world.
She had me backed into a corner. I didn’t want either choice, but I had to choose if I ever hoped to escape the passport agency. I was out of options. So…
I said yes.
I admitted that the miserable angsty eyeliner novice in the photograph was me—and not only that—I admitted that it was an accurate representation of me. I confirmed it, officially. There is now a record stating that I identify with the image of an expired tween.
All I ask for, readers, is your understanding. Judge not by my actions alone, but by my actions under the force of a tyrannical agency with no regard for an individual’s pride.
Also judge the passport photographer for not allowing do-overs.