The Past-it Passport Picture Pickle

Bad passport photoMy passport runs out next month and it’s been on my to do list to renew it for several months now yet the task remains outstanding. It’s not that I haven’t had time. It’s not the expense. It’s not finding someone to countersign it. The reason for my passport procrastination is the dread of having new passport photos taken.

I wouldn’t describe myself as especially vain but there’s just something about a passport photo that perfectly illustrates the ageing process in all its cruelty. Not only does it reveal in graphic detail the alarming effects that children, gin and gravity have had on your face over the last 10 years, you are stuck with it for the next 10. This is the photo that everyone will pass around and laugh at at the airport. This is the photo on your main form of identification. And this is the photo they’ll print in the paper should you ever go on the run from the law (could happen).

I’ve been putting it off for ages with multiple excuses: I have a spot; I have a cold sore; I don’t have make-up on; my roots are showing etc. All perfectly valid reasons. However, I have run out of them so I took my made-up, cold sore and zit free face and did it. I gave my face the best chance it could have and this is how it repaid me.

Sarah Ainslie

The sorry state of things today

Sarah Ainslie

The 10 years ago me









The eyes have bags, the jowls have dropped and at some point in the last 10 years I have turned into my mother. I would go back and have them done again but I fear this is as good as it gets. I do think it might make me feel better to add a footnote to the reverse of the photo underneath the ‘I certify that this is a true likeness of…’ with ‘but sometimes, in the right light and if you squint a bit she looks a bit better’.

I have, however, managed to find some previous passport photos I’ve had taken (though it is like a gallery of deterioration) and wondered whether I would get away with submitting one of these. I mean, how would they really know?… (Can’t decide between zany-flicky-fringe me or slightly-slutty-spiral-perm me). I just have to find someone willing to perjure themselves to sign the back.

Sarah Ainslie




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