“Aren’t you a little too young to be here?”
“How’s high school treating you?”
“What?! Wait a minute- just how old are you?”
Yes. My life.
If you haven’t already guessed by now (or looked at the title), yes, I have a baby face. It always irks me that, whenever I meet people, they think I’m younger than I actually am, and because of that treat me differently.
But, let’s back up: just what defines a baby face?
According to the University of Regensburg’s psychology department, a baby face is characterized by a handful of facial features: large head, forehead, and eyes, as well as a small, short nose, round cheeks, and a small chin. You can find the link to the university’s page on babyfaceness here: Babyfaceness- Universität Regensburg
And guess what? I have 5 out of the 6 features described. I might as well look like a 12-year-old.
I’ve always had round, full cheeks; I was a chubby baby, and I had this hope in the back of my mind that, as I got older, the fat from my cheeks would go away. But it didn’t happen. Instead of having defined cheekbones and a slimmed visage, I am still stuck with my spherical head. Instead of calling me “pretty,” people call me “cute” or “adorable.” Which is still a compliment, but not what I would like. Ah, the struggle…
Really…I am 21 years old. I’m in college (almost graduating, actually). I am old enough to work, have a job/internship (which I do). I can drink and purchase alcohol legally. Yet, I continue to be mistaken for a 16, 17-year-old.
I admit, being mistaken for a teenager, especially a late teen, isn’t really that bad. It could be worse, like being mistaken for a middle schooler.
It’s strange: I feel like I haven’t gotten older. It’s as if I had stopped aging once I hit seventeen, and just…froze in time. I am looking through my old photos from my teenage years and, while my body has changed since then, my face has not. My big, fat baby face.
So then I get these comments from strangers. First, they make the assumption that I am a 17-year-old and from there, it branches two different ways: 1) if I am interacting with teenagers, they start…doing those creepy teenage things like checking me out, giggling and whispering behind me, and even interjecting with a salaciously-laced “Hey.” This is not flirting; this is fucking harassment. No wonder I hate kids.
2) If I am communicating with adults, like, 30 years or over, they do something different, almost the opposite of what the teenagers do. They talk to me like a kid, all smiley and an “Oh my, what a sweet child!” kind of vibe. They are always surprised when I tell them that I’m in college, after they ask me which grade I’m going into (for middle school, high school, whatever). It’s rather patronizing, the way they treat me, but I would take their treatment over that of those awful teenagers.
Funny enough, when I’m around college students (aka my peers), none of this “How old are you?” business gets mentioned. Or, at least, very rarely- some people were surprised when I mentioned to them that I was in my last year of college, rather than starting my second.
The next thing that these strangers say- and this is a huge thing that I, along with all of the other baby-faced individuals, receive- is that “It’s good to look youthful. You will look so great when you’re thirty or forty.” I know that’s meant as a compliment, but…really?? Do I still want to look 17 when I’m in my thirties???
I wish that physical appearances didn’t define us or make others treat us differently. Because although I have this youthful, innocent face, I am not-so-youthful nor innocent. Especially when I finish school and start my career, I want to be taken seriously. So no more of that cooing and “Aw, you’re so cute” kind of crap. 😛
– The Finicky Cynic