10 Times Looking Young For Your Age Gets Awkward

August 9, 2014  |  


People are very visual creatures and it’s normal to make assumptions and judgments about people based on their initial appearance and nothing more. Which explains why this whole past week on vacation I received a litany of stares, side-eyes and whispers while I walked the streets doing the tourist thing in Toronto. Maybe it’s because I am 6 months pregnant and who isn’t attracted to the maternal glow of a woman carrying a small beach ball that you might catch wiggling for a moment if you stare hard enough or maybe it’s because people were assuming I was 16 and one post production voice over from a spot on MTV’s Teen Mom.

Looking young for my age is something I’ve never really gotten used to and now that I’m in my 30’s it’s increasingly becoming a source of confusion for many people. Before I get hit with the trusty, “You’ll be thankful for this when you’re 40.” (Which by the way I was told a long time ago about 30), I’ll remind you that looking like a teen when you’re a full grown tax paying adult is chock full of challenges that are unfamiliar unless you’ve ever been mistaken for a student while you’re teaching the class.

So in case you’re wondering why I feel the slightest bit of anxiety whenever I go to pay for a bottle of Riesling in the liquor store and realize I left my ID in the car, these 10 situations may give you some insight:

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  • NikkiJ

    I normally don’t comment on articles but I HAD to say something about this. I experience every point made on a DAILY basis. I am an educator at a high school and nothing frustrates me more than for fellow teachers and even administrators to look at me and not recognize that I am the person that sat next to them at the faculty meeting that very morning! AND it really gets under my skin when people make comments about education as if this is my first job out of college! This isn’t my first rodeo and I don’t scare easily. I’m not even going to touch on the dating subject…can you say FRUSTRATING!

  • mmmdot

    This is most annoying when I constantly get carded. I’ve been looking 16 forever, and when I was 16 I looked 12. I’m short with a babyface. ::Shrugs::

  • fuzzydred

    I cosign all of these. I was even invited to play flag football for high school girls. I’m 37 with five children and my oldest daughter’s friends thought I was her older sister. I’ve been scolded by middle school teachers for being in the hallways. Then, I have to explain I’m the parent of two middle schoolers. People think I’m lying when I tell them I’ve been married for 15 years. What really gets my goat is when people younger than me call me “young lady” or when they say stuff like “This was probably before your time. It happened in 1987” and I’m like “I was 10 in 1987.”

  • Yay

    Well, black doesnt crack, unless you use drugs. Even them, that flesh comes back right.

  • Guestest

    I’m 21 and i look 16. Sometimes i love it and sometimes i hate it..

  • Ella

    While I can relate to a lot of these (recently got told in a job interview, “I think you’re a very bright young girl with a great future ahead of you” – lolwut, I’m 30…) the last one isn’t a problem, because my mum looks at least 10 years younger than she is (which is where I & my siblings get it from in the first place).
    It does have its upsides, too, though. For example, and this happens regularly, a cold caller comes to the door and asks, “Is your mum or dad in, sweetheart?” and I just say, “No, sorry!” And off they f*ck! lol.

  • _blondeambition

    I’ll be 27 this Thursday…I’m the only person in my group to be carded on a regular basis, high school boys approach me all the time, people think my children are my brother & sister, and they speak to me as if im a child…I appreciate looking young but sheesh it’s such a hassle.

    • Yay

      Happy Birthday! !!!

  • MajorKinksnCoils86

    Like my grandfather always says “you’re not old, until you make yourself old”, so with that said, embrace the youthfulness no matter what age you are. This is what makes you thrive! I personally don’t believe that age makes any difference, than how you truly carry yourself. I’ll be 28 years young next month, but most ppl think I’m 10 years younger. My problem is that some people don’t take me serious, however when I prove them how serious I am they act different, so again it all depends in how you carry yourself and how you interact with them.

  • Youthful beauty

    I work in the skincare industry so when people ask me if the anti-aging serums work I just smile and say I’m turning 30 and then their jaws drop and they say this stuff really does work. Lol.

    • StraightShooter

      Two questions are you actually turning 30? Also do you actually use the serums? You can be honest because you are basically anonymous.

  • chante morris

    I have to say I love this article, and I’ve experienced every last one of these. I love not looking my age because when someone asks me how old I am their mouth hits the floor, but I do get tired of the old pervy men hitting on me.

  • Jae Bee

    I completely agree with everything the author has stated—especially the quintessential, yet highly irritating remark from others that I’ll “appreciate it when I’m [x] age”. Well, I’ll be turning 33 in September and I don’t appreciate: not getting the same respect as other professionals my age, not getting attention from single men my age who assume I am much too young for them, being the only person carded during outings with friends by a person who’s probably younger than I am, having other people make a big deal about my “youthful” appearance when they learn my true age, having other people who don’t have to worry about the issue minimizing my experiences and feelings…the list can go on forever.

    • Stacey

      The professional aspect of it kills me. The women at work speak to you in a way that forces you to assert yourself, mention current events, the places you go, the experiences you’ve had. It can be draining. So I just mentioned the Kennedy Center, that I go there a lot and a couple co workers were surprised, I was like, huh? Where did you think I was going. I used to go about this in a roundabout manner but I outright tell people that I am over 30 now, can’t imagine how much worse it would be if I was short.

      Getting carded is funny when the waitress or security guy realizes I the age. I can always pinpoint the moment.

      The men that approach men want the 25 year old they see, not the woman over 30, that is apparent.

    • chanela

      you totally get my life!!!!! It’s always the people who don’t have to go through that who say “you’ll appreciate it when you’re 40”.

      single men my age treat me like a ghost. some of ya’ll get approached by younger men, hell younger men don’t even approach me (unless i’m in a club where it’s obvious that i’m not 15). I always get hit on by 65 year olds. at my job it irritates me when 19 and 20 year olds that i work with act like they are the boss of me or when they speak to me like i’m a child (i’m 24) smh

  • Define2

    I had a young man approach me in a retail store…he was talking and I was completely flabbergasted as to why he was approaching me because he had on all the hip hop gear and everything. I looked behind me to see who he was talking to…he says I’m talking to you…I was thinking this is like when an animal becomes confused and tries to mate with the wrong species lol…

  • Felisha Crooks-Sweet

    Dear MM….I read the article and its quite interesting. But I must correct you when you expressed that: by the time they were born…you were ‘ foreclosing’ on your Barbie Dream House. The correct term is ‘closing’. ‘Foreclosing ‘means to lose a home. #ijs#

    • Guest 1

      She may have meant foreclosing. It could make sense especially if you consider that she may have been implying she was old enough to have lost interest in Barbies by that time… idk maybe I’m reaching lol

      • Yay

        No you are not resching. Just a logical reader. I got that too.

  • CK. ®

    Dating becomes so hard when you are 25 looking like a 16-17 y’o! Trying to meet men in their late 20s, early 30s but instead I get approached by the 18y’o… Smh..

    • mr10066

      Oh God YES!! I hate that! These little boys approach you, trying to spit their “game” and the whole time you’re just like, “How old are you?! Yeah, I don’t want to go to jail.” I’m 26 and a 16 year old approached me; I was TOO DONE!! And the older gentlemen think you’re a teeny bopper and are trying to avoid jail themselves!

      • CK. ®

        my life exactly!

      • Lisa

        I told one boy that he could be 15 or 23, that either way he was way too young and I wasn’t interested, he was like, okaaay….

    • Stacey

      That was me. I am older now so it’s between 20 year olds and 27 about. I would prefer 30 plus

    • Live_in_LDN

      I’m 25 years old. The other month, I was approached by a 14 year old in his school uniform, trying to spit game to me, asking me what high school I go to.

      • Stacey


      • Aisha

        I’m 25 and work in middle school. A 7th grader tried to hit on me. But I don’t think I look that young. I just think some of these kids look so damn old

  • Trap in a young body

    I will be 53 soon, how do I dress when my exterior scream younger.

    • MajorKinksnCoils86

      Dress however you want, embrace it, and represent yourself the way you want to be perceived! My mother is 54 and she doesn’t dress like “54” …. who says you have to dress according to your age? There are no rules, especially when you look fly right? JS 😀

    • Stacey

      So have you guys ever noticed that Asian women always dress however they want? Tight jeans at 60, same shirt I have on at 55. I think it’s cute. And Asians tend to look older than black women of equal age. When I see older women, I am 31 btw, I always look for the ones that are still stylish and basically youthful, so I would probably be admiring you from a distance if I saw you. Kimberly Elise is my new obsession, her body, and youthful face. I really think natural hair aids in looking younger also.

  • bigdede

    The worst is those pervy old men who hit on you then once they learn you’re over 30, they slink back and retreat. I also hate when people talk to me like I’m 19! They expect me to know the young ppl lingo or how to work certain devices. Or they come to me speaking slang then when I tell them my age, they start talking like an adult. When I first moved to a different state, everyone at my new job treated me as if I was this poor foster kid with no parents. They would feed me, give me money, etc. Finally I felt guilty and told them I’m over 30, I’m not a child. Sadly the free stuff stopped but they became my closest ADULT friends.

    • luelle

      This is one of the funniest comments I’ve read on MN. Lol at your coworkers treating you like an Oliver Twist. Consider yourself lucky…you probably got a few bills paid in the process.

  • honeybee808

    I’ve experienced some of these. The absolute worst is when men who approach me say, “I love older women!”after finding out my age – not the right thing to say (i’m not *that* old yet). What I also find annoying is the condescending tone I get when some well meaning “adult” is giving me unsolicited advice as though I need some guidance.

    I also have issues with wardrobe too, I feel as though I need to make the transition, but I can’t seem to figure out how.

    • MajorKinksnCoils86

      For wardrobe, I’ve never focused on “whats appropriate for my age” age ain’t nothing but a number (in my mind). However, I do believe in dressing to make a statement, like showcasing your uniqueness, and what you want to be represented as…

      • Lisa

        A t-shirt and skinny jeans on a 33 year old with a fit body looks different than the same on a a 33 year old with a less fit body. I don’t think it’s the clothes making the person look young, it’s the person.

        I am a creative so I like to express myself with clothes. I wear colors and accessorize, that’s just my personality. But I’ve been feeling major pressure at work with just standardizing my clothes while at work and making them more plain because i feel as if I get judged by some.