Not only did I have to work Friday night (when I attended the fabulous performance of Footloose at Gorham High School) but I also had to work Saturday, to go take photos at a trade show in Gorham called the Gorham Marketplace, where local businesses can set up booths and the public can come through and see them. It's a really big deal around here. Not exactly what I wanted to do with my Saturday, especially after already working 50 hours a week, but oh well.
So there I was, taking photos of various booths and of various people. You know, doing my job. I came to a booth for a bank, where they had one of those phone-booth-type machines where you stand in it and cash swirls around, and you try to catch the cash.
When I walked up, there was a group of three 12 and 13-year-old boys standing there. One was in the booth, so I started snapping photos. He got out and his friend got in. I turned to boy number one, and said, "Can I get your name?" And the woman running the booth (who must have been about 40) said, "Wow! That's an interesting way to pick up guys!"
My head swiveled to look her, and my mouth dropped open.
I held up my left hand, pointed to the wedding band and diamond solitaire engagement ring on it, and said, "I'm very happily married, and I'm twenty five." (I embellish a little there -- I won't actually be 25 until May 13, but 25 sounds better than saying, "I'm almost 25" or "I'm 24" so that's what I tell people. But I digress.)
She said, "Oh, hahaha! You look like you're about 12!"
I shot her a look that could have frozen boiling water.
The college-aged girl who was helping the lady said, in a reproachful and embarrasing voice, "[Lady's name (which I cannot recall)]!! That's not very nice."
I said, "I'm with the Gorham-Westbrook Gazette."
She said, "Oh. Well, you just look so young!" She laughed again, like it was all one big joke.
I then got the kids' names and walked away.
Why, oh why oh whyyyy do people think that it is in any way remotely acceptable to tell me that I look like I'm 12 or that I look really young?!
In what universe would it be ok for me to tell someone, "Oh, hahaha! I thought you were, like 70!" I'd probably get shot if I said that to someone. So how is it ok for people to tell me that I look like I'm 12?
As Diane Court said in Say Anything, "That's age-ism, Lloyd, and that's being prejudiced against people because they're old. Maybe their mouths don't work as well as yours."
What people are doing to me is age-ism. It works both ways. Just becuase I look somewhat young doesn't mean I enjoy being reminded of that fact. It's hard enough to maintain a professional demeanor at times; now I have the added onus of having people think I'm TWELVE EFFING YEARS OLD.
And another thing. When people assume I'm young, and I tell them I'm 25, and then they say, "Oh, well you'll be glad when you're older and you still look young," that doesn't instantly make it ok that they've just inferred that I look like I'm pre-pubescent. (HellO, people, would a twelve year old be a 36B? I don't think so.)
Sure, maybe I will look young when I'm older, and maybe I'll enjoy it and and they'll be right. But then again, maybe I won't enjoy it, and I'll be more like my mother-in-law, who was once carded for alcohol at the grocery store when she was 45 years old. That's embarassing, too. (She was so mortified that the cashier thought she was under 21 she almost made my then-boyfriend-DH and his sisters march back to the store with her to show the cashier that she was born before 1978, dammit. As she kept saying to him when he kept telling her, "You had to have been born before 1978 to purchase alcohol," she was married in 1978.)
I think people don't understand how hard it can be to gain respect from others if you look young. The respect I've earned from people through the course of doing my job is something I've had to fight for, tooth and nail sometimes. I've had to prove through extremely hard work and extremely dedicated and accurate reporting that I'm not the naieve, young woman they all thought I was. Just because I'm short, or I look young, or I sometimes wear pink does NOT mean that I shouldn't be afforded the same respect as someone who is 45 years old, is 5'10" inches tall and wears business suits every day.
While the incident is kind of humorous, the whole underlying nature of the issue just really, really bothers me. Bottom line? People just need to learn how to STFU and keep their opinions to themselves.