The thing is, I still feel 21 on the inside. Most days I am shocked that I have faked being a full-fledged adult for this long. Which is why those times a younger person age-shames me, it can really sting.
I imagine over the years these incidents are going to become more frequent occurrences in my life. But to date, these are the four times I was age-shamed by a younger woman.
1. The Consignment Store
Typically, I would donate my old and unwanted clothes to charity, but one day I had the idea to make a little cash. I had never shopped in the consignment store that I passed each time I went to Starbucks, but I thought they would be thrilled to take the nicer clothes I no longer wanted.
I rolled in my suitcase full of garments and plopped it on the counter. The teenage girl behind the register told me to look around while she sorted through my clothes. As I was browsing through the jeans, she came and found me to break the news.
“Um, your clothes are like, too mature for our store. We can’t take any of them.”
I stood there dumbfounded. “Are you sure?” I said. “There’s stuff from Anthropologie in there.” (Emphasis on the word “Anthropologie” to imply stylishness.) She looked down at the floor and replied, “Yeah.”
2. Justin Timberlake Concert
When JT came to town, a group of girlfriends and I made plans to go to the show together. Toward the end of the concert, Justin performed a cover of Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison.” All it took was the first line of the song for me to go apeshit crazy.
My friends and I were dancing like strippers and singing along very loudly. Right in the middle of a sexy dance spin, I noticed the two young women behind us were videotaping us with their phones. I stopped and stared at them. They looked at one another, rolled their eyes and shrugged their shoulders at me.
I kept on dancing and made sure to shake my booty extra furious in their direction, just to show them I am way more mature than they are.
3. A Downtown Bar
Waiting my turn to order a drink at a crowded bar is on my list of top 10 least favorite things to do. People spill on your shoes and muscle their way in front of you, and if there is a large crowd, you practically have to flash some boob at the bartender to get noticed.
As I inched my way closer to the bar, I noticed the bartender asking each patron for their ID. Every single person who ordered a drink showed the bartender their ID. To save time, I decided to have mine in my hand, at the ready.
When it was finally my turn to order my drink, the bartender didn’t ask to see my ID. I pulled my ID out to show her, and she waved it away with her hand and went to make my drink. “Don’t you need to see my ID?” I asked when she returned. Cue laughter.
4. Forever 21
You saw this one coming. We ladies with mature clothes from Anthropologie should know from the name of this store what we are walking into. But no matter how old I get, sometimes I just want a disposable outfit. Maybe it’s a vacation or a night out—a little something new can make a gal feel snazzy, even if it is only good for one wear.
As I bring my purchase to the counter, the young woman rings me up and asks, “Do you need a gift receipt?” “No, thank you,” I say. She pauses for a moment. “Oh. I thought you were buying a gift for someone. Is this for you?” I’m not sure what happened next because I blacked out from rage. But I like to imagine I flipped over all the accessories tables on my way out and did not buy myself a pity Cinnabon that I ate while crying in my car.
I can’t really blame these women for thinking I am not cool or relevant or stylish. I once thought the same thing about women my age. One day, these same women who age-shamed me will force a bartender to look at their ID and realize their life has gone from 21 to 39 hella fast. They will be dancing with their friends while teenagers snicker and think, they are making fun of us. Finally, they will understand that even though it stings a little, it doesn’t matter. And they will turn back to their group of 39-year-old friends and keep right on dancing.