As Airbrushed as Frass

My, my, hello, Menlo community! I hope you’ve all enjoyed receiving your student IDs this week as much as I have. One gets to admire or abhor how this year’s yearbook photo will turn out.

Here’s mine:


Dashing, right? But really, I can’t smile on command, and my photogenics… meh.

By the way, here’s what I look like in the flesh:


Spot the difference? I certainly did! Menlo has generously donated to me, my parents, even to my distant great aunts who get these photos for their wallets, a Photoshop job.

Now, my room has flattering lighting, but I’m sure most would notice the — how should I put it — rosier complexion in the second photo. I might appreciate this change in hindsight, as I did years after I had braces. So perhaps I won’t mind this alteration to my face later.

But now? This is an altercation, a tick-off. Tick it in the box for another assumption of what we want. Why couldn’t I have opted in or out of the choice for a neck job? Have any other students noticed the photoshopping?

It’s not a deal killer for Menlo, it’s simply that the image of a person or program settling down to go through each student’s face and scour blemishes is unnerving, and it forces me to remember just how bad my skin is.

Imagine every time you look through old photos of yourself, your lip twitches: there is a you in an alternate universe without permanent pits in your cheeks. Now picture lunch with friends; you open your wallet and that ID reminds you again, but you must save face, for you can’t express such sudden sadness in front of them; it would throw the day off.

Menlo usually indulges us students with options and the knowledge thereof, but it was not the case here. All I ask is for more deliberation in futzing with what will go down as a record of my junior year.

But there is truth in ugliness, and the Romans knew it well. I’ll end with a tidbit. “Veristic” art, popular in ancient Roman marble busts, portrayed the subject as they were, boils, bumps, lines, and all. They knew exactly how they wanted to the artist to portray them, and I like that as well.


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