Call Me Ma'am -- Why Looking Young Sucks Too

I was kicked out of a casino for looking underage.
Publish date:
July 29, 2011
body image, gambling, petite

Sometimes I play a game when I’m with my friends called, “Am I as tiny as she is?” where I discreetly point out someone who looks incredibly small and ask that question. The answer is almost always: “No, you’re tinier.” It freaks me out. I don’t feel as little as I am.

In general, I like how I look, so it's not about that. It just shocks me when I’m compared (often by myself) to womankind as a whole. I’m basically Victorian-size; in some states I'm an inch or two off from being legally disabled. I struggle to weigh much more than 90 pounds, and trust me, I eat like a hockey player. It pisses people off when women who are thin or small according to the conventional social standards are perceived to be "whining" about their horrible body problems. I don’t know why.

The point is to feel like one is being treated with respect at all times no matter what she looks like, and it’s pretty well known that’s not the case with most women. People think it’s OK to make comments to me or ask me weird questions about the size of my body, and I’m often treated like a child. Case in point: last night I was kicked out of casino bounds in a Las Vegas hotel. I’m 33 years old. I forgot to bring my ID with me. It was humiliating.

I know having my family with me doesn’t count as legal identification. I know it’s the law, and there are strict penalties if there was some kind of sting operation and I was playing craps. I know there are much, much worse things in life than being treated like you’re ten-plus years younger than you really are. This is a minor issue on the scale of hard knocks. I am grateful for my vitality and health. Still, the obsession with women’s body size and age appearance is unnerving.

I’m the carnival attraction of my family. I’m the oldest of my generation on my mother’s side, and—sorry sis and cousins—I do look the youngest. Talking about my age is like a fun guessing game in public, and I know it’s because they’re showing me off in a good way. I’m getting tired of it. It would be nice to always automatically have the kind of respect I imagine women in their 30s have.

When Jane took issue with the receptionist at the waxing place who made an inappropriate, ageist remark when she thought Jane was out of earshot, I honestly thought she was being a little oversensitive about it (love you, Jane!). And now I understand: It hurts to be treated in a way based entirely on your looks, especially when it doesn’t match who you really are.

Only question is... What, really, can we do about it?