As someone who is turning 30 later this year, I’m acutely aware of my age. That isn’t to say I feel shame about my age or am embarrassed I’m almost 30. I’m just AWARE of it. It’s also useful to point out that I A. live in Los Angeles and B. work in the entertainment industry coupled with the fact that I C. am a female writer who is also very active on social media and you’ve got the perfect storm for lots of things including self-doubt.
I'm also acutely aware of what I look like and how people perceive me and aware that I take a lot of selfies. Since I’ve been taking photos of myself since I was 6 and had my first camera, this phenomenon has never been “new” to me. My first Facebook profile back in 2004, listed “self portraits” as one of my interests.
This all brings us up to yesterday when I Tweeted a picture of myself my husband took of me at the beach. Here is the tweet in question and the only part of it I could screenshot in one photo:
I got this response from someone on twitter:
Was my response the most eloquent? No. Do I usually respond to people on Twitter? Also no. Also, I’m sure I’ve mentioned my age on Twitter so he might know the correct age but I’d still love to know if he even has my age right in his mind. (Note, if he’s reading this, I don’t actually need a response.)
Anyway, this bothered me for several reasons.
Firstly, I’m 29. And I vainly don’t think you should get “for your age” comments until you’re at least at Helen Mirren status.
But then, wait, NO ONE should get told they look great “for their age.” That qualifier is the ridiculous part. Why can’t someone just look great? Why do we have to point out “Well, you only look great CONSIDERING your age. If you were younger than your age and you look like that you wouldn’t look good.” That is the impliction of that qualifier and why it is so problematic.
Women are well aware of our ages, and the fact that our whole appearance is a factor in how every single person we encounter looks at us and decides whether or not to take us seriously. Appearance is everything, even if you don’t live in L.A. and work in entertainment.
No one should be told they look good….BUT ONLY FOR YOUR AGE. I am well aware that I’m going into 30 looking a LOT better than I did at 20. Here is a side by side comparison for illustration:
“You look good for your age” is a little thing that no one thinks about that we need to stop doing. Helen Mirren looks great. Period.
These little things we do and say are important and we all need to consider them next time we’re talking about human beings and putting qualifiers on compliments.
And then maybe, also, one day I’ll learn to not reply to random people on Twitter.