16 going on 17

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A rant piece about "looking your age" and how TV/Film has led us so far astray on the matter

Submitted: September 23, 2008

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Submitted: September 23, 2008



There used to be nothing more satisfying than being asked how old you were only to proudly declare “seven” accompanied by a visual finger count.

Newsflash: once you run past the ten finger mark, this isn’t cool anymore.

I’m a senior in college, about to graduate and enter the real world. The real world filled with grown ups…but one thing has me worried; I still get asked how old I am.

And if strangers don’t feel called to ask, they’ll just assume I fall in the ribbon adorned pigtail range, dubbing me “sweetheart” (which when called by females roughly in the same age bracket as myself, can come off as nothing less than Heathers-esque) or even more horrifying, “baby girl” which is usually dropped by dudes who either want to bounce you on their knee or throw you over their shoulder like a freakin’ sack of potatoes. Sweetheart, I am not. Baby girl? Heck no.

People need to realize what a social taboo asking ones age is. Your parents don’t get asked right? That’s because they look old(er) –being asked your age implies that you have a youthful look about you.

When I’m asked and peevishly reply, “Twenty” the surprised looks followed by, “Oh. You don’t look twenty” irk me to no end.

What does twenty look like? People seem to know exactly what twenty is supposed to look like, and I’m not it.

My frustration building, I was in search of a place to lay blame. Naturally I turned to television to take a closer look at what I’m failing miserably to meet up to.

J.J. Abrams’ soap college drama Felicity – in season four, Felicity’s senior year Keri Russell was 26.  Scott Speedman who played Felicity’s love Ben (and a fellow college senior) was 27, and let’s not forget the loveable RA Noel, played by Scott Foley who was the ripe young age of 30. Oh but wait, he was supposed to be a year older than Felicity. Well then, in that case never mind.

Josh Schwartz’s The O.C.? Not only were three of the four main characters NOT in high school, they should have already been graduated from college. In fact in season one, Benjamin McKenzie who played the troubled high school sophomore Ryan Atwood could have conceivably earned a Masters Degree at age 25.

Don’t think I’m just going to pin blame on current pop culture. Oh no, some should go back to John Hughs and his famous high school flicks. Matthew Broderick was 24 when he played Ferris Bueller.

For goodness sake even Liesl von Trapp was 23 when she claimed to be “sixteen going on seventeen.” Sixteen my Edelweiss.

It’s just TV you say? Just a movie? What? I should take a chill pill? Certainly not! These people are claiming to be something they aren’t and consequently hurting the image of people desperately trying to “look” their own age. Of course I don’t “look like” a college senior, people are used to seeing them played by soon to be AARP members.

And what’s with the Olay commercials for age-defying serums featuring 18-year-old models (that look 30)? We must strive to look 30, but cap it off there? No fine lines, wrinkles, or grays? But super model hair, smokey eyes, and tube tops from age nine until the day we die?

Why? I cry at the heavens in futility! Why?! A film professor of mine offered up child labor laws as a possible explanation. What about them is my response to that. Ever heard of Shirley Temple? Don’t try to tell me she was really 18 in Bright Eyes.

Studios don’t want to have to deal with parents, tutors the whole shebang? I might buy that pre 1980 (heck, I’ll round up, 1990) but in 2007 how many agencies in Hollywood are devoted to child actors? Hundreds? Thousands? You’re really going to tell me that Josh Schwartzs cast college grads to play high school sophomores because there weren’t any high school sophomores that could play the part?

No! I choose to believe that this is a mass conspiracy set up by the man himself to age our culture and make it miserable for people like myself who are twenty and just want to be left alone to look twenty.

A bit dramatic? Yes. Just another example of how television and popular media skews our sense of reality? Absolutely.

© Copyright 2019 Nancy Drew. All rights reserved.

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