Oh, no, this blogpost is not about racism! It is about looking too white, too light, too bright, and too white. Having had some shade of blond hair for most of my 67 years, I am used to being light. Fair skin, invisible eyebrows, pale eyelashes, see-through skin, and blue-grey eyes are who I am.
But too pale for a passport photo? What The ......?
It is time to renew my passport, and finding someone to make my passport photo out here in the sticks is not an easy task. This week we planned a trip into town and checked out places that made passport photos. Walgreen's! That was convenient, since my hub needed to pick up some batteries at Harbor Freight, and a Walgreen's Pharmacy was nearby.
At the first (notice I wrote first) Walgreen's a kind pale older guy took a photo of me standing in front of a pulled down white screen and then proceeded to try to "fix" the photo background without making me disappear. According to him, fair-skinned folks like he and I are "too white" for the pure white background required by the American government. There was an annoying shadow on the stark white background, and when he made it vanish, so did I. He even took a second photo after having to put new batteries into his camera. Then he began blaming the fluorescent lights and angles and gosh knows what else, so I suggested that I could go somewhere else. He kindly gave me the name of a colleague he "had trained" and who worked at a Walgreen's near the college. She would have better luck, he thought. So off we went!
At the second (yes, there are more!) Walgreen's, Ashley had just gone out for lunch, but the front cashier knew how to make passport photos. That is what she said, anyway. This time I was told to stand far away from the white screen. When I mentioned that a colleague from store no. 1 had had difficulty getting a usable photo because I was too light ( bright, white, whatever), the young woman got really nervous and fiddled with the computer image. She started asking, "What about this? Or this? Think this is okay?" Then she pressed a button and two passport photos popped out. I was so annoyed (P.O'd) by this time that I was ready to grab them and run. Then she said, "The next time you come for passport photos, wear a darker color around your neck!" At that point I said, "I have been given a run-around all day, so keep the pictures. I'll go somewhere else and wear something dark." I never looked back!
Long, long story shorter, we ended our shopping day at the third Walgreen's across from a Wendy's. On the way to the photo department, I spied a lovely dark blue scarf hanging on a display rack. I grabbed it, threw it around my neck, and dashed over to ask if someone would make my passport photo.I explained that the scarf was Walgreen's property, but I had been told that I needed "color" for the photo shot. The kind young woman helped me look more photogenic and then shouted, "Has the new girl been trained to take passport photos?"
My heart sank! But I smiled and said, "Cheese" to the sweetest teenager who complimented me on my lovely clothes, snapped my picture, snipped the photos, and wished me a "blessed day." And, yes, I told her it was pronounced "Bless id." And she told me thank you, since she planned to study to become an English teacher.
I am still "laughing out loud."