Don’t Patronise Me. To look at me you may put me somewhere in my mid 20’s. Or younger, if you dare. Don’t treat me like a kid because you think I look young. Treat me like I deserve to be treated. Recently, I was buying a set of garden shears in Argos and was asked for ID. Yup, identification please! I was unaware that you had to be over 18 to purchase such a weapon of garden destruction. Now to set the scene, I had my two year old running around me and I was clearly quoting from the Mommy Bible “Put that back”, “Don’t touch that”, “Give that back to the lady”, and “No, wait until we get home”. At which point I gave her my car keys to play with which allowed me one second to hand over my credit card to this Argos assistant who was staring at the console, back to me, to the console and back to me again. A whole minute passes and she says:
“Do you have any ID? The system is telling me you have to be over 18 to buy the shears.”
It’s been quite a while since I’ve been asked for ID (FYI – B and I don’t drink. Nor do we frequent any drinking establishments or gamble – we’re goody goody like that hah! – so being asked for ID is not something I’m used to). I’ll admit the disbelief burst out of me as I irrationally laughed and asked this small mousy shop assistant “Are you serious?” I couldn’t believe that she needed me to prove that I was over 18. Me, with the child, car keys, a credit card in hand and patience that was wearing thin. Of course any ID I had was in the car and I had no intention of trekking out there to retrieve it for her. Thankfully, she believed my abhorrent disbelief and allowed me the courtesy of not having to fork over my drivers licence which blasted my age whether she believed it or not. Is it because I was wearing converse and skinny jeans and not high heels and a silk blouse with a lizard brooch? Was it because I decided to forgo the make up that morning in favour of getting breakfast for A?
More context – This is me. I am 33 this month. Thirty three! (Happy Birthday to Me!)
This photo clearly does me a lot of justice. I somehow managed to get an automatic magic filter on my phones camera which my techno know-how subconsciously refused to switch off. This magic cleared out my wrinkles (yes I do have them), blotches (I’m useless with concealer) and freckles. B will verify that I plucked a few snow white hairs out of the top of my head last week and that I then spent half an hour searching every strand for more. But, this is me. Also, note the khaki jacket that I practically live in which admittedly makes me look like the college student I feel like on the inside – remember my post on Insecurities? But still I would have thought that the Argos shop assistant could pick up on the tell tale signs that I was not a college student and that I was somewhere in the midst of being an adult regardless of whether you could put a definitive age on me or not.
I admit I look young, but not 18 young. Not even 21 young, thank you very much Miss Argos shop assistant.
Most of you will probably say
Wow, aren’t you lucky! (Or more often less politely – Lucky bitch!)
What great genes you have. (Yes, I do. My mum is the fountain of youth! Honestly)
You’ll appreciate that when you’re older.
To which I will smile and nod and say “Oh I know, it’s great” when inside I’m really saying “frick off and stop treating me like a kid.” Because that is what happens when your genes fail to reveal your true age. You are often treated like a kid or a partial adult.
Ok, so, I probably don’t look over 30. Yayy me! But I don’t act like a 20 year old. I act my age. I am an intelligent, well educated, respectable and responsible adult. Looking young is all well and good and yes, I suppose I will be thankful when I’m older but I am not impressed as I begin to encroach on my mid thirties.
Allow me to bring you deeper into the story with an example that only happened this morning and one that has been an all too frequent occurrence in my life. I sat at my desk in work when a colleague, in all seriousness and thankfully with no intention of being defamatory or offensive called me a little girl. It is simply how she see’s me. A little girl. My wonderful genes betray me. The youth, the young, the next generation or whatever. I may be in my 30’s but because of those genetics I’m often treated like I just popped onto the scene. But my ‘continuous mission’ has not just started, I am not the new kid on the block. I’ve been around a while.
Ordinarily, I would fudge the comment, retract it or argue against being called a little girl – an image that conjures up a seven year old in a pink and green polka dot dress and a ponytail lobbing on the side (I was an 80’s kid).
I am, however, becoming tired and offended and patronised by consistently being referred to as young, a little girl, or being told that I wouldn’t know or understand or remember that. All because I may or may not have a young complexion and a youthful appearance. All because you are too ignorant or just an asshole to remember my age and give me the respect I deserve and acknowledge that I am mature, I am responsible, I am an adult.
My position, my education, my experience and my opinion have all been frequently diminished because it’s believed I wouldn’t know since I’m young. Sure, I’m only out of college, isn’t that right?… except I graduated from my BA in 2004 and my Post Grad in 2008. I have bought and sold an apartment, a house and have just purchased a third house (mortgages seem to be our thing). I am married ten years… yes, ten years. We are not a young couple. We are old hearts with a lifetime of experience. We have a beautiful almost three year old daughter. We have travelled. I set up and ran a writers group for three years. I have written two novels (ok, two half written novellas). I have been published. I have honed new skills like graphic design and editing. I have produced material that is above and beyond my job description.
I have not just tipped my toe into the world of adulthood. I have been here for quite some time already. Don’t patronise me and assume that I am unworldly.
There are times in my life when looking younger than I am has restricted me, when I’ve had to fight harder because of it.
I have found that I have to push myself harder to be heard, to be respected. If I want my ideas to be taken on board by management I have to be stronger than my counterparts and if they are accepted I can sometimes be left with the task of ensuring they are attributed to me. If I want to be heard, I have to shout that little bit louder. It is unfair that simply because I look young, it is assumed I may not be experienced enough or have worthwhile and innovative ideas. But this can be the case. Not always, but it happens. I am a professional with a college education and 12 years experience in my field. Give me the credit that’s due. Don’t undermine me because you look at me and see a twenty year old. Talk to me and listen to what I have to say.
Don’t patronise me. I know what I’m frickin doing.
Today, I let the comment slide. Tomorrow, I won’t. The next day I might. It’s swings and roundabouts. I have a good few years left where I will have to stand taller and be louder. I’m prepared for that. There will be days when it’s not worth taking on board. And days when I just won’t be able to be anything but offended. I look at those garden shears and they remind me to wear makeup and pointy boots when shopping. Although, I’ve noticed that parenting has aged me – but clearly I’ve not caught up to 1983.
Does this happen to you? My advice