Sunday, January 24, 2010

I'm 12 going on 21

If I had a nickel for every time someone’s told me I look like I’m 12, I’d have, like, several dollars by now (assuming I exchanged all these nickels for bills at a Coinstar machine). It’s always the same: hairdressers, dental hygienists, great uncles, etc. will ask how old I am, I’ll tell them my age, and they’ll raise their eyebrows in a face that says “wow I feel sorry for you. You look so young and childish. I’m glad I was better looking when I was your age.” Yes, all of this is conveyed in one facial expression.

Sorta like this face, only usually less hairy.

They always cover it up, of course, and say “Well you know what? When you’re older you’ll be so glad to look young!” Right, because that follows logically…I mean, who’s to say I won’t look old in a few decades, just because I don’t now?

Like this

Or even this

So why is it that so many people have this reaction to me? I’ve tried changing my hairstyle, clothes, makeup, and nothing seems to help. Once I got a haircut and was mistaken for a 16-year-old (whoo hoo), but since it grew out I’ve reverted to 12. I figured as I aged people would start guessing 13, 14, maybe even 15. But the number stays constant at 12. This used to bother me in high school when I was actually 16, a mere 4 years older. Now that I’m 21, this shit’s getting serious.

Most problems can be blamed on one of two scapegoats: the media, and your parents. This problem is no exception. If my parents’ DNA hadn’t blended in such an unfortuntate, cataclysmic way, I wouldn’t look like an effing SIXTH GRADER while I try to navigate job interviews and the like.

This is me in a few years, after I get a job. And turn black.

But really the media is more at fault here. Television shows and movies constantly feature people my age playing teenagers, and the ones who are actually teenagers are so dolled up with professional styling that their true ages are indiscernible.

Wtf this girl looks like she’s 35.

Exhibit A: Ashley Tisdale was 20 when she began portraying a 15-year-old on Disney’s “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody,” James Van Der Beek was approximately 21 when playing Dawson on “Dawson’s Creek,” a show about high school sophomores. The character “Gordo” of “Lizzie McGuire” fame was 17 when he began portraying a 7th grader. Leslie Bibb was a 25-year-old playing a 15-year-old on the WB’s “Popular.” Sorry for my old examples, but those are the shows that were popular when I used to fantasize about being a teenager (except the Ashley Tisdale one. I just plain don’t like her). I guess this is proof that I really am as old as I say I am.

This is how actual teenagers look these days, apparently.

What’s worse than twenty-somethings playing teens and teens looking like twenty-somethings is that actual children are starting to look older than me.

She’s only 9. How can I compete with this?

WHAT?! Even Dakota Fanning looks older than me? What is the world coming to?

I’m not gonna get into the ethical argument here (what about their childhood? This can’t be good for their self-esteem! Everything’s always about looks, isn’t it? Blah blah blah). I am merely concerned with how I look compared to society’s ill-informed notions of what a 21-year-old should look like.

Although, now that you mention it, I think the real question here is why are all these hairdressers, dental hygienists, and great uncles watching the Disney Channel? Don’t answer that, Uncle Milton.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who's experienced this psychological trauma!


  1. You crack me up, Kari.
    Who cares if you look like you're 12. Your boyfriend looks like he could be 30 when he grows his beard out. (don't tell him I said that).
    Maybe you should start thinking of all the things you can take advantage of if you can be mistaken for being so young... cheaper movie tickets, uhh cheaper tickets for other things.... and I'm sure there's plenty more reasons to love looking like a 12 year old. lol

  2. <3<3<3<3 you Kari

    You'll always be 22 in my heart, and taller than me

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  4. Does this mean your boyfriend is a pedophile?

  5. Yes, Matt, it does. And I told him yesterday that I'm a pedophilephile because his pedosmile was kinda sexy. (poor taste?)

  6. Let's not forget how the "high school" actors in Grease were in their 30's.

  7. You are so funny! People always said I looked younger too. Now that I'm 30-something, people still mistake me for a 20-something, and I even get carded at bars. Believe me when I say, if you look young now, you'll look young in your 30's, and that's when you really DO want people to think you're younger. Just ride it out for now and be flattered later.

    And I so agree about all these kids trying to look older. Don't even get me started on child beauty pageants!

    Thanks for linking up and sharing this post! The pictures are great too.

  8. You're a great writer, hence me looking through your older posts instead of studying (: This post makes me laugh because I've always experienced the opposite. At 15, I was being mistaken for 25, wtf is that? I just hope I don't look 10 years older my entire life, maybe I'll look younger when I'm older? Here's hoping...

  9. I get the SAME thing. I work at a doctor's office (for preparation of going to grad school NEXT YEAR) and people ask me if I am old enough to work there. I cut my hair shorter, and everyone who knows me tells me I look more mature, but strangers have been guessing even younger! It's so frustrating and I feel your pain. I'm only 4'10" so I can't even fit into most clothes that would make me look older. You are not alone!!!


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