We’ve spoken with some Nigerians to find out what it’s like looking younger than their age. Today, you’ll hear from Nigerian women who look older and how they navigate this in their daily lives.
9 out of 10 people are bound to be surprised when I tell them my age. Most times, I literally have to show some form of evidence before they believe me. They usually guess that I’m 3 years older or more. Now, at 22 people think I’m 25. The good thing is that when I was a teenager, I could easily pretend I was older and get away with it.
On the downside, almost every guy I have talked to or become friends with has mentioned being intimidated because they assumed from my looks that I was older. Now, I’m more comfortable with my real age as I’m in no hurry to turn 25 yet. I want to be one of those women who look so young at 40 that people get surprised when they find out I have kids.
You would never guess my age from the way I talk or dress – I appear mature. Unless on occasions when I decide to act childish. The fact that I had a fast education contributed too; I completed SSCE at 16, got an admission into a polytechnic, and later got admitted into a university at 18. Majority of my friends and coursemates are older than me, but I don’t tell them my age. Sometimes when I do, some of them don’t believe me or their attitude towards me sort of changes. Looking older than my age is a flex sha, because it brings respect. All these secondary school kids that are my mates won’t dare call me by name. Also, the men who toast me are usually married men who want to be my sugar daddy. Not that they interest me anyway. There was a time I couldn’t even find someone my age among all the toasters in my DM.
I finally got into a relationship with someone 8 years older than me though. When we just started talking, my boyfriend thought I was older, and I had to keep repeating that I’m 18. With time, he came to believe it, but this restricted sex in our relationship. He likes the fact that I am young, and by the time I will be done with school, he’ll be established. That’s another flex because he is running his PhD program now, and when he is done he will start working and be able to save up for us to start a family. Honestly, it’ll be nice to enjoy money that I didn’t work for while I look for a job. I deserve to be taken care of after all.
I’ve been hearing, “You look older than your age” almost all my life. But I became more aware of it at my workplace. Almost all my colleagues assumed I’m around 25 or so, until my last birthday which I celebrated at the office. A couple of them were impressed with how far I’ve come at my age, but others started acting all weird, especially my team lead, but I really don’t get it. They were fine before knowing my age, and I’m efficient at my job. So, what’s the big deal? Thinking about it now, it appears people believe only those older or the same age as them deserve to be respected. Once they sniff you’re a younger person, it’s as though you should be denied a seat at the table. Omo. That’s their business. I’m out to grab all the seats I can before turning 25!
I didn’t pay attention to it when I was younger, because I was one of the smallest in my class, but then it started getting annoying as I got older. At one point, I just started adding 2 years to my age when people asked because I got tired of explaining. It was that annoying! An obviously bigger person would come and tell me, a 10 year old, that I look older than her. Ma? Is chewing gum on your eye?! I hate all the taunts from people my age and elderly people who don’t know how to mind their business. I also have to deal with perverts who think it’s okay for them to make crude jokes because I look big. The funny thing is that it has nothing to do with my genes, because we have people who look small in my family. It’s more about my body structure. And although I look older physique-wise, if you look closely at my face, you’ll notice that I’m pretty young. I do like the respect that comes with it. People who I know are definitely older, add “ma” when greeting me. The feeling is sweet! I bask in it and use my big aunty voice to reply to them, and it works every time. I love that thrill, but there are people who are so mannerless. They ask questions like, “If you look this big at your age, how will you look when you grow older?” blah blah blah. All of which made me really insecure for a long time.
Looking back, I realise that I grew up so fast and I’ve always preferred hanging out with older people seeing as my age mates only know how to talk crap. I also looked older than my elder sister when we were in secondary school. She attending a boarding school didn’t help, because the typical Nigerian boarding school makes you look like hell. I had to skip 3 classes at my own school, so all my friends ended up being older and I had to grow up to match them. Presently, it’s my 14 year-old sister who looks older than I and my 20 year-old sister. Guys always comment on her body and try to get her number when we go out, and I have to constantly tell them she’s a kid. It’s one of the reasons I stopped posting her picture online. As for me, I don’t usually tell people my age. I let they assume I’m older because I want to do grownup things, lol. From my observations, no guy wants to go out with a small girl.