Embarrassing Photos

That's my ninth grade picture. Does it really need a story? The picture is charming enough as is, but I will post some background details.

The Story of the Worst School Picture Ever

Time the first bell rang at Centerville Junior High: 8:25 a.m.
Time my mom, Mrs. Baker, the choir teacher, was supposed to be there ("contract time" it was called): 8:10 a.m.
Therefore, time I arrived with her each day: 8:05 a.m.
What I was supposed to do during the 20 minutes before the bell: practice my trumpet

Time Mom usually woke me up to accomplish the above: 7:00 a.m.
Usual wake-up method: "Liiiiiiiii-saaaaaa, Riiiiiiiiise and Shiiiiiiiiiiiine!" (sung/said in operatic tone of voice outside my bedroom door)

Time she woke me up on picture day: 8:00 a.m.
Special wake-up method: "Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! My alarm didn't go off and we need to leave RIGHT NOW!!!!" (yelled frantically through the heater vent that functioned as an intercom between her room and mine)

Hairstyle I had been wearing for the past year: crunchy permed bob
Hairstyle method: Wet hair in shower or with spray bottle, use pick to comb through hair and begin scrunching/fluffing process, liberally apply Dep gel and/or "sprunch spraygel" and/or mousse, scrunch hair with hands, scrunch some more, scrunch some more, curl bangs under with curling iron, hairspray liberally, probably scrunch some more
Time needed: Five to ten minutes after wetting hair

Time available to style hair on picture day: 30 seconds
Hairstyle method suggested by my mother: "No, we don't have time for you to shower or get your hair wet and heat up your curling iron and my brush curling iron is already hot so just brush your perm out with this round brush and curl your hair with my curling iron hurry hurry hurry I don't care HURRY!!!!"
Result: Well, you see it above. I brushed out my permed bob, which was full of styling products from the day before. Needless to say, this led to an impressive amount of volume. Then, when my product-laden strands made contact with the hot curling iron, the curl became crustified and winglike, sticking out from my head. I would characterize the look as Utah female newscaster circa 1989. You can see that due to the amount of product in my hair, pieces could loft away and become stuck in mid-air (see left side of picture).

Now, the outfit...

The multi-colored sweater belonged to me. It was one of my prized clothing possessions, from GAP Kids. Everything I owned at the time was purchased in children's stores and departments. Underneath the sweater I am wearing a light-wash denim shirt belonging to my mother. I have no idea why! I never wore it before or after that picture. I had a different shirt that went with this sweater. It must have been in the laundry, and my mom hastily procured this shirt for me from her closet, claiming I needed to wear a collared shirt so I would look more "polished" in my portrait.

My age at the time: 13 years
My height: 4'9" or 4'10"
My weight: 85 lbs. or so

My mom's age at the time: 37 years
Her height: 5'4"
Her weight: 135 lbs. or so

Tell me, why on earth did my mom think I should/could wear her clothes?!?! Why did I agree?!?! We were both probably high on the fumes created when my hairspray-saturated hair made contact with the curling iron.

Now, my glasses...

Up until eighth grade, I removed my glasses for my school pictures. Then I got the frames pictured above, and wore them in my eighth and ninth grade pictures. I'm so embarrassed to admit this, but I find it hilarious: I have a tape recording of myself where I say that I am going to wear my new glasses in my eighth grade picture because "they have dark frames that complement my hair and face, and they are much cuter than my old glasses". Delusional. Completely delusional.

The zit...

Par for the course, at that time.

The makeup...

I was allowed to wear a little at that age. Did not have time to apply any.

School pictures were taken during English class. My friend Emily was in my class, which was Mrs. Shinn's 9th grade honors English class. Later she told me that when I walked in that day she saw me and thought, "Oh no! She forgot it's picture day! Oh no!" She told me she desperately wanted to be the "cool friend" from the '80s movie who has a bag full of makeup and hair stuff, and could fix me up to look normal or even cute in my picture. Maybe like the Helen Hunt character in "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"? No such luck, though. Emily was just as clueless as I was. Lucky for her, she was naturally beautiful and also woke up on time on picture day. Also, her mother wasn't philosophically opposed to re-takes. Mine was, apparently, because the photo above went into the yearbook and was displayed in our family room for a full year.

When I went to sit in the chair for my portrait, the photographer kept adjusting his lens, trying to get a wide enough angle to fit my hair in the frame. Finally he just had to scoot the camera back to accommodate my hair-wings. In the yearbook, everyone else is pictured from the neck up. My picture shows my whole upper body, and the sides of my hair are actually cropped out of the picture because there wasn't room for the full glory of my hairstyle.

Good times.

Oh well, at least I wasn't the only one wearing dark framed glasses that "complemented my hair and face." Check out Jennifer Garner's school picture from about the same time!

Please tell me I'm not the only one with a bad school picture. Let me know what you think of mine, and add a link to yours!


  1. I am not joking when I say that I nearly wet my pants when reading this post, I was laughing so hard! I remember that cassette tape recording! BAHAHAHAHA!!! Oh, and I'd just like to mention here that it's only fair that you be forced to brush out your perm, since you brushed mine out before my piano recital when I was ten. I know that you know which photo I'm talking about...

    1. You nearly wet your pants? Well, you HAVE had four kids, so I'm not sure that's saying much, but I'll take it as a compliment! :) Oh wait, you had C-sections! Totally compliment! I am so flattered!

      I'm so sorry about your recital hair! And what about the time I put some ringlets in your hair + rain + one piece of hair went under your glasses + school picture. You were a nice sister to ever let me touch your hair. It was so long and fun to play with!

      Glad you got a laugh out of this!

  2. Thank you for making my day so much brighter! I can hear your mom now and I love it! I remember that GAP Kids sweater, too. Good times. Glad it is all documented. Thank you.

    1. Glad I could brighten your day. Yes, it means the most to those who know both characters. Wish I could have been blessed with beautiful photos year after year like you! It looks like your baby girl is taking after you, too. She is so incredibly adorable.

    2. Oh, you are too kind! I have some "special" pictures myself that I am keeping locked away. We love our little Taylor girl, she is so much fun!

  3. Ah the memories. You may recall my school picture, where I had cleverly twisted my too-short-for-this-hairstyle hair around the back of my head with a looped braid sticking out one side. 7th grade maybe? 9th grade I had a triangle perm. Fascinatingly, I once again have a triangle perm (which I refuse to wear down until it grows out a bit).

    1. I do know the photo of which you speak :) I bet your current perm doesn't look all that triangle-y. (I suppose the word is triangular.)

    2. Haha, this made my day. :)
      I had to wear a headgear for the first two periods of each day, and was in LOVE with bright blue eyeshadow. Sadly, no pictures survive, when I was 17 I burned them all. My Mom was so mad when she found out and told me I'd regret it, which was impossible to believe at the time. Who knew? :)

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