I can relate to what James Hamblin of The Atlantic is experiencing.
He is a year older than I am but he looks like in this video a twelve year old boy. He is Caucasian, which I can make sure he is way taller than I am.
It’s not because he makes conscious efforts to look like one but it’s more because of his natural tendency.
Some people just find it hard to ‘man up’, to be mature, to grow masculine, stable and OLD.
Being brutally honest, ageism can hit you at any age.
If you are seen too young, you can experience humiliation and get disrespectful attitudes or behaviors from people under your own age.
I have my own fair share of being in this complicated situation.
Not only once.
But many times.
But here I’ll be only take two incidents as an example.
So I was once working as a part-time lecturer and what was required for me as a lecturer is to show at the office first and then come in my classes.
What struck me most is when I came in, a senior lecturer approached me only to ask,” Are you going to meet a lecturer here? What student are you? Freshman? Because I’ve never seen you before on campus…”
That was in the office.
When I came in classrooms, the problem was different.
“Hi class. Welcome to our Grammar Class this semester. I’ll be teaching you for the whole semester,” I told them all.
Though they didn’t show disbelief, somehow I could sense that expression of ridicule.
“This can’t be happening. We can’t be taught by someone only a year older than ourselves. We want some considerably older lecturers with more convincing looks to learn from. He is way too unexperienced.” That’s the conclusion after I observed the way they reacted to my being a lecturer for them.
Even worse is that there were few students who were older than I was, making all the situation was becoming a little bit more awkward.
And still, I did look like a high school graduate.
I felt pathetic, at first.
But then things improved as time went by.
I accepted it as is.
I just turned my own attitude towards this situation of being seen too young to do something worthwhile into an attitude of total acceptance.
And when I changed my career (because I am not quite an extroverted teaching type of person) to become a professional writer in the corporate setting, I was also once again experiencing this ageism-related discriminative treatment.
Being quite senior in my job as a copywriter, I once called “too childlike” by a recruiter.
“It’ll be more convincing for you to meet clients without this shirt,” he pointed at my rather slim-and-fit batik shirt.
I did — and still do — look childlike with or without my tight shirt so his advice was actually useless. As far as I’m concerned, clothes won’t help me much to look mature and authoritative.
He went on: “Try to wear a suit. A formal one. You’ll look way better than this. It helps with your boyish looks that won’t help .”
Still I got hired and then I wore no suit, walking down the hall at my clients’ offices with my unicolor t-shirt. (*/)