Forever Young
April 01, 2006 3

Forever Young

In a society that values youthfulness, I have learned, however, that having a youthful look is not always rewarding. Sure, I reaped some benefits when I was younger. I passed for a 12 - “year old for several years, which gave me discounts to buffets (although, I feel a little guilty about this now). I could shop at the young girl's department, which sold cheaper clothes (mind you, I don't do this anymore.)

In retrospect, I'm not sure why I didn't snap at him, but I was in a good mood and wanted the drink and souvenir mug badly.
Emily Peng
But as I got older, I started to blame my lack of growth and baby face features on my Asian heritage. Somehow I thought that I would be problem - “free in the appearance department if I were white. I thought, if I were white, I would have longer legs and larger breasts. It was also a matter of convenience. Jeans frequently needed to be hemmed and most clothes did not fit well for my petite stature.

At the age of 21 today, I still look exactly like I did in high school, with the addition of ten pounds. And looking this way only meant that I had to vindicate my age whenever I wanted to drink at a bar.

The suspicions of my age became more apparent when I went to Las Vegas this past holiday vacation with my family.

I was in Paris Las Vegas and I was particularly drawn to the drinks sold in large, colorful hot air balloon - “shaped mugs. Without feeling threatened by the vendor, I approached him.

"You don't look 21," he said in a doubtful tone.

"Actually, I am," I responded unconvincingly. Like an FBI agent whipping out her badge, I proved it to him with my driver's license.

Besides, if I were really in France - ”as I am believed to be, for sake of argument - ”where the drinking age is 16 (or practically nonexistent), I would not have been interrogated.

"What, as of yesterday?" he barely glanced at my license and waited for my next defense.

I smiled and said, No, since August (goodness, that was so long ago!). In retrospect, I'm not sure why I didn't snap at him, but I was in a good mood and wanted the drink and souvenir mug badly.

Getting the drink was one thing, but walking around with it was another. First of all, the mug was heavy. I had to switch hands every so often. Second, I got the occasional stare.

At first I took this as a sign of envy. Others wanted my mug and maybe were wondering where I bought it. But then a man walking with his wife kept turning around, looking first at me, then my mug.

"How old are you?" he finally asked.

"Twenty - “one."

"Okay," he replied almost disappointingly, as if saying I was younger would have made a better follow - “up.

As I drank, I doubted that the vendor put any alcohol into my drink because I started to analyze the consequences of looking younger instead of putting the whole manner aside.

If a valid driver's license wasn't enough for me to defend myself at a bar, how many other people were passing me off as a young 15 - “year old? When first impressions last a mere few seconds to the onlooker, my youthful features alone might judge my character before my personality can get a chance. It may seem like a vanity issue to discuss such a petty problem, but I became concerned about how less seriously people would treat me based on my youthful appearance.

It turns out that I don't really know the answers to these questions or even have much control over how people judge my appearances anyway.

I started to think about these questions again when I flipped through the pictures from the trip. A picture of my whole family made me realize the youthful symmetry of all of us. We were all of similar height and built. My brother, in his mid - “20s, still looked a few years younger. My parents, who are in their fifties, still have a full head of black hair and few wrinkles. Appearances aside, as a family we act young and goofy as well.

Here I was coveting the older features of my counterparts, thinking that my life would be better if I looked a certain way. Rather, I should appreciate how truly great it is to both feel and look young, regardless of my age.

I may still be brushed off as a high school student several more times in life but, at least when I'm older, I won't have to lie about being younger than I am!

Emily Peng is a senior at University of Delaware.

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  1. asianprovocateur's Avatar
    April 04, 2006 Reply
    Hi Emily, enjoy it! Trust me, you blink and the years fly by and you'll only be wishing that somebody, anybody, would card you.
  2. Barbara Lee Shimoda R.N.'s Avatar
    Dear Emily,<br /> <br /> I agree with asianprovocateur. I too am asian and in my younger years (25 years ago) was carded too, and like you, I was very annoyed at the fact that no one believed that I was old enough to drink. But as the years flew by, I grew to appreciate fact I welcomed it when it happened because with age, there is wisdom. Be careful of what you wish for.... you just might get it. <br /> Here in American society, youth is celebrated. everyone wants to look younger and more beautiful. I know.... I am in the beauty business. Everyday I see women of all ethnicities and they all want to get back that youthful face they once had. I do my best to make that wish come true.... Sometimes it happens right away... and sometimes it's really a challenge. But I have to say that my chinese genes have not let me down after all these years. I am able to retain my youthful look in a very low maintenance way. I was out to dinner with my 26 year old son the other night and they carded me and not my son. Imagine his dismay when the bouncer thought that I looked younger than my own son!! I was sooooo flattered, that I gave him a kiss! Be well, and stay beautiful!<br /> <br /> Barbara Lee Shimoda R.N.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
  3. emily's Avatar
    July 07, 2006 Reply
    Thanks for the wonderful comments!

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