It’s weird: when I hit puberty, at age 11, I started looking older than I was. People started mistaking me for being 2-3 years older than I was, and when I was in high school, I was mistaken for as old as 20 when I was only 15.
It had a lot to do with having an early growth spurt, and hitting 5’2 by the time I was 12 (I grew another inch before high school, and two more inches very slowly over the next 6 years), and being a 34B in the 7th grade.
The weird thing was, my aging really slowed down when I approached 30. I never got carded when I was 21, but when I was 28, and Indiana started this “We card if you look under 27,” I started getting carded all the time. When I was in my mid-30s, people would put my age at about 8 years younger than I was. Once, when I was 34, I got asked by a Walmart cashier if I was old enough to buy an R-rated movie.
Then when I was 38 I had a baby. Over the next 3 years, I aged about 10 in appearance. So everything got caught up for a while. But now I’m 51, and when I say I’m “in my 50s,” people say I look younger. I don’t know if there’s something mentally about 50, that just sounds really old to younger people, so if I’m not looking like I’m ready for assisted living, I can’t be 50-- they think of 50 as elderly, not middle aged, you know, middle age may end at 49 for them, so I can’t possibly be older than that.
Personally, I think I look about right for my age-- but I think I look good for it. I have good posture, and I don’t have jowls or a double chin, I don’t have varicose veins, and I’m fairly muscular for a woman (which is just lucky genes), so it takes up some of the slack skin I might have on my arms or legs, but I don’t think being in good shape hides my age. I think I’m pretty spot-on for 51 right now.
Duh: it just dawned on me. My hair isn’t very gray. It’s a little gray, but compared to most 51 year olds, it’s still pretty brown. My parents were both the same way, so it’s just genes, but that’s probably another reason people think I look a little younger than I am.