Nazreen Fazal Post


The ten year challenge reminded me of this from a few years ago

January 17, 2019,

We moved to Jeddah for a year when I was in 11th grade (ten years ago). One of the first things you have to do on arriving is apply for an iqama (resident permit). And apart from medical check ups and lots of forms, you also need to submit some photos. You all know my aversion to any photo taken for official purposes. I have been cursed for life, there is probably not a single normal looking passport sized photo of me. It's a truth that I have reconciled myself with now.

Anyway, coming back to our story. My father came home one day and asked us to dress up immediately to go to the studio nearby and take pictures for the iqama. I didn't think much of it, just grabbed the nearest scarf, wrapped my head, and off I went. Little did I know that this fateful picture would come back to haunt me for the rest of my life.

Look carefully at this picture, look again Take in that teenage awkwardness. Look at that headscarf which is probably a tablecloth. See my spectacle-less blank eyes with which I was blindly trying to locate the lens?

Just take a minute to look at that Resting Bitch Face (RBF). Like kittens could piss me off. I look like I just gave birth to Donald Trump and realised it's a moronic monster I'd just birthed. I look like the photographer just asked me whether I take a shower with my hijab on. This is my look when people ask me if I speak 'Hindu'. Or when some men tell me they are here to rescue me from my " tribal,medieval, oppressive cult " .

It goes without saying that I have been utterly embarrassed of this photo. If it was possible I would have burnt all copies and thrown the ashes into the the Arabian Sea. But turns out my plotting, backstabbing mother had saved a few copies solely to torture me.

In 12th grade I wrote an article for my school magazine. They wanted my picture to print alongside it. They came home to collect it when I was away and my mom thought that this picture was the best one she could give. This RBF picture where I look like I could just nuke an entire city before drinking my coffee is what she felt was appropriate to accompany my article. I didn't find out about it until the magazine came out.

When I saw my article I was so horrified that I cried for a looong time. She consoled me saying I look 'cute' and no one would really notice. The very next day one of my classmates came up to me and said that this was the ugliest photo he had seen. Ever.

I still haven't recovered from that blow. And my mom, she still has a scanned copy of this picture with which she blackmails me from time to time. Today she threatened to put it in our extended family's whatsapp group. I've decided enough is enough, I am taking the power out of her hands. So people, here's my most embarrassing picture ever. Enjoy.


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