A cool trick to never have to smile for photos

September 8, 2021 — by Chris Chen
Photo by Minsui Tang

I thought we had left behind introduction slides in 2020, but evidently not: I was surprised when the first assignment for two of my classes was to do an introduction slide.

Easy points to pad my grade, right? Maybe it would have been, but as I scrolled through my camera roll, I realized that I had no (recent) photos of myself with my mask off — but honestly, I don’t regret it.

Unless I’m eating, I’ve had my mask on in all of my photos, even if my parents or some other adult has asked me to take it off. It might seem a little silly, but it’s mainly because my ability to smile for the camera might as well be non-existent.

But my amazing smile-dodging technique still has a couple of flaws I’ve yet to work out. With a mask on and with my bangs acting as a natural eyepatch (though they poke my eyes), whenever I neglect brushing my hair out of my eyes, there’s practically none of my face visible. And with my slouch as well, I end up looking like an edgy little gremlin. 

When some girls at summer camp forgot my name, they referred to me simply as “Emo.” Definitely humiliating, but I probably deserved it. Even aside from the name calling, a noticeable drawback is that if everyone takes their masks off for a photo and I don’t, I end up standing out even more — the opposite of what I intend.

There’s also the slight issue of my solution is rather temporary. Maybe, eventually when COVID-19 ends — if it ends — I won’t have masks to protect me anymore. (And, of course, if it doesn’t, at least I’ll have that as my silver lining.)

So, maybe the moral of the story is that it’s time for me to finally get a haircut and get some sunglasses instead to block my eyes from the terrible, blinding light of cameras and the horde of paparazzi following me around everywhere. But while it lasts, I’d prefer to hide behind my mask a little longer.

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