Three, two, one, smile!

Nearly everyone seems to have at least one less-than-fond memory of school picture days. Waking up early to style your hair, wearing a frumpy dress or tie and holding an awkward pose while being temporarily blinded by a flashbulb, only to find that you had something in your teeth the whole time.

But for some, those memories are uncomfortable for much deeper reasons. 

For those who were unable to show their true selves growing up, Elementary School Retake Day is a chance to embrace their queerness in a redo of those grade-school pictures. MacEwan community members are invited to make appointments for their own photos, which are available on March 8 and 9.

Ezra Richards, a second-year Bachelor of Arts student majoring in Sociology, jumped at the chance to retake their childhood school photos, and even volunteered to have their image used in the ad campaign for the event. For them, it’s a chance to gain a more accurate portrait of who they are – a version of themself that they wished they could show in elementary school.

“It’s not so much making amends with my inner child, but just letting her have those opportunities that she might have missed because she didn’t have the clothes that she wanted, or was told to smile a certain way,” says Richards. “It’s healing for both of us, I think.”

Richards says that the isolation of the pandemic allowed them to grow and understand their identity better. “I didn’t have anyone to please. I felt I could be non-binary or genderqueer, and had the space to look back on little me. I realized I’ve always felt like that, and I’ve always wanted to mess around with gender and sexuality and style.”

They decided to recreate their third-grade photo in a way that reflected their identity more accurately. “I had this really short bob with bangs, and I was wearing this pink shirt with kitty ballerinas on it,” they say of the original photo. In their retake, they were able to recreate an outfit they’d made themself back then, where they’d cut the arms off of a black shirt and repurposed them as arm warmers.

Richards met up with photographer Aspen Zettel, who has donated time for the retakes. They had a quick session together in Zettel’s home in order to have images ready for promotional materials.

“I’m hoping that this will help other people find peace and comfort. And to let them feel more present in who they are now and who they used to be,” says Richards. “We can grow from those past selves. We can learn from them and tell them, ‘I love you, and you deserve better.’ It’s finding a holistic sense of self within that specific experience of what queerness is and growing up queer.”

To learn more about Elementary School Retake Day and other Pride Week events on campus, head to

Celebrating queer joy
Pride Week 2023 highlights the relationship between 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals and their collective joy as a community.
A group of students participate in a Pride March in Building 6, smiling and carrying rainbow flags Read the full story

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