Grown Woman, Baby Face

You’ll always look younger than you actually are, but that’s irrelevant until you’re old enough to care.

By Danielle Wilkinson, Purdue University


With my 21st birthday only 3 months away, I am bursting with excitement about all the things I will be able to do, namely go to bars and nightclubs and finally be able drink alcohol (legally).

Unfortunately, unlike most students my age, I have been given the blessing and the curse of having a baby face, and so no one is going to think I’m 21.

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And while my cherubic features have their disadvantages, there’s certainly a silver lining to constantly looking younger than I am.

So to all of the Selena Gomez’s and Sarah Hyland’s out there, this is for you: a pros and cons list of having a baby face.

Pros

Embrace Birthdays

Everyone has friends who are terrified of growing old and forming wrinkles. To them, birthdays are just another step closer to senior citizenship. But for the baby faced, growing up is no sweat, mostly because age only seems to register every ten years or so. Gabrielle Union is living proof of this.

Proud baby-faced adults embrace growing old and even having kids, especially since they’ll probably be mistaken for their own children’s siblings In fact, growing older is one of the biggest perks of having youthful features, because at 40 bartenders will still be carding you and younger men will still be asking for your number.

No One Accuses You of Acting Immature

If you have a baby face, chances are you’ve taken advantage of your features for financial or personal gain at some point in your life. You can go trick-or-treating basically for as long as you want, and the child’s menu is fair game until around the age of 20. Admit it: At some point in your life, when a well-intentioned waiter has handed you a child’s menu while at dinner with your parents, you’ve shrugged off the mistake and ordered a grilled cheese.

It’s more than children’s menus or cheaper movie tickets, though.

Whether you’re buying stuffed animals, shopping at the Disney store, slipping into bouncy houses or playing on playgrounds, you always feel free to channel your inner child without feeling criticized.

Subterfuge Comes Naturally

There are few things that you want to sneak into that are below your age range, but having the ability to do so is pretty fun nonetheless. A couple of years ago, when I was about to be a freshman in college and she was entering her senior year, I went on a high school beach retreat with one of my friends.

No one asked my age when I claimed to be a rising senior, and no one in our retreat group even questioned my age. Ultimately, it was a lot of fun and I ended up being really glad that I snuck in.

Cons

Younger Guys Hit on You

The summer before I left for college, my mom, sister and I went shopping for dorm supplies. When we were passing through the food court, a boy appeared beside me and asked for my number. He seemed young though, so I asked him how old he was, and he said that he was 16. I told him I was 18 and leaving for college soon, hoping that would turn him away. But, and I kid you not, he then told me: “I’m turning 17 in like six months.” Okay well, good for you.

Getting hit on by younger guys isn’t all bad though; in fact, it’s actually pretty flattering. It’s just annoying that guys your own age or older never seem interested, which is probably because they assume I’m 16 or younger. In fact, no one my own age hit on me until I went to college, which even then was probably a result of everyone on campus being roughly the same age anyway.

You’ll Never Be the Hot One

Unfortunately, your adorable appearance is something you’re just going to have to accept. Every time you wear something short, tight or revealing, you’re always going to get the same response: “You look so cute.”

There’s nothing inherently wrong with “cute,” except that cuteness means puppies, kittens, Minnie-freaking-mouse and people under the age of 12. Sometimes, even baby facers want to look smoking hot, which unfortunately doesn’t happen until their mid-30’s.

Everything Reduces Your Age

Wearing no makeup is an instant age dissolver.

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When you’re going out or meeting new people, you’re going to need to wear makeup if you want to look somewhat like your age. After people have known you for awhile, then you can start skipping the cosmetics.

Sarah Hyland has a baby faceIn addition to makeup, putting your hair up in a pony tail is also dangerous for the young and baby faced. According to my calculations, ponytails subtract about anywhere from three to four years from your age. Maybe it’s because they pull your hair back and reveal the entirety of your “cute” little round face—I’m not sure. All I know is that it’s tragic.

Never have I experienced a more animated reaction to people finding out my real age than I did at cheer gymnastics. Everyday I showed up at the gym looking like everyone else, with my hair up in a ponytail, a standard t-shirt and athletic shorts. At the time, I was trying to learn how to nail a back handspring before trying out for competitive cheerleading, and had been going to this cheer gym for a couple of months. Many of the instructors were college students and I was 17 at the time, so I treated them respectfully, but also like they were my age, because they kind of were.

The first clue that they had mistaken my age was when they started me at the lowest class, a group composed mostly of girls aged 6-12. One day Matt, my main instructor, overhead me talking to one of the 9-year olds about math. She was complaining about having to do an entire multiplication sheet for homework, and I told her I’d trade my Pre-Cal for her math sheet any day. Matt was confused as to why I was taking such a high level math class, so I told him that juniors in high school typically take Pre-Cal. Incredulous, he asked me how old I was.

“YOU’RE SEVENTEEN?!”

“Um…yes.”

Apparently, he thought I was 14. He went on to ask all the instructors that passed by if they knew how old I was, and all their answers ranged from 12-14, which was doubly insulting, because I felt like I had communicated with them as if they were my peers. When you’re baby faced though, even if you present yourself with a mature air, people still assume you’re younger.

All the queried instructors were surprised to find out my real age, but none of them reacted as obnoxiously as Matt. It was so embarrassing. My advice: Don’t wear your hair up unless you want to be mistaken as a middle schooler.

People Think You’re a Liar

This is one I will never understand.

If you have a baby face, sometimes when you tell people your age, they’ll insist that you prove it with a driver’s license, or they’ll demand verbal confirmation from someone that looks more credible.

It’s as if they don’t trust you to know how long you have been alive.

And let me be clear—I rarely do anything that would incentivize me to lie about my age. I’m under 21, but I’m not trying to sneak into nightclubs or bars, I’m literally just trying to live.

For example, I had to park downtown for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Walk, and I chose to valet park since everyone and their mother was downtown that day. Parking was a nightmare. When I went to pick up my car afterwards at the valet booth, I waited patiently while the valet talked to some other employees, thinking I wasn’t there to pick up a car or anything.

He finally asked if I needed help. I handed him my valet number and said I was there to pick up my car (obviously). He looked at the number then back at me and asked if I was even old enough to drive. You don’t understand how angry this made me. I was exhausted from walking around the city all day, and he thought I was pulling his leg. I told him I was 18 and really just wanted my car back. He had to look at my license really hard before calling someone to bring my car around. As if I had to mention it, yes, I had my hair up in a ponytail. I don’t make this stuff up.