Why Americans Wouldn’t Believe I am Over 21

I am 5’1″ I am about a size UK 6, (in America that’s about a Size 2 I believe). So I am small. I was always going to be small since neither of my parents are tall. If you were to equate me to a celebrity, I’m about the size of Kylie Minogue- ‘pint-sized’ as they always label her. Or the Olsen Twins.

Michael Jordan Height

I’m 25 years old and I run an online business. Sometimes I feel older since I’ve seen and done so much. If you spoke to me for more than 5 minutes, you would instantly realise I am older than 21.

Yet so many American’s found it hard to believe I am over 21.

Maybe I am wrong, but I get the distinct impression that people think size relates to how old you are. Somehow people think that if you are taller and larger, that somehow you are older.

Wrong. That’s simply not true.

In America, everyone gets asked for ID. I’m fine with that. Even if you look 40 you get asked to present some ID. To drink alcohol, you have to be over 21, and they’re very strict about it.

In my opinion, their law sucks. They can drive at 16 (crazy), join the military at 17, and vote at 18 but they can’t drink till 21?? Crazy stuff.

Anyway back to my point.

During my two month trip around the States this summer, there were several incidences where people could not believe I was over 21. And it made me feel like I wasn’t being taken very seriously, which frustrated me somewhat.

It’s a weird feeling to be mentally older, but to feel like you’re being looked upon as a child. Not cool.

At a pool party in Las Vegas, some guy came up to me and said “Have you not been busted yet?”

“I’m sorry?” I said, very puzzled.

“Have you not been busted yet for being under age? How did you get in here?”

“Um with my passport, I’m 25.”

He laughed and utterly surprised. I turned away and walked off.

Only a few days later I was relaxing by a different pool having a conversation about business with a friend, when an older man yelled the same thing, interrupting our conversation.

“Have you not been busted for being underage? Don’t worry I won’t tell!”

“I’m 25 years old, and do you think I could get past those security guards without showing my passport?”

I carried on my conversation.

Here’s the thing…the security is really tight at these pool parties. You can’t get by without showing some ID. The fact that these people STILL thought I couldn’t be 21, even though there is tough security, shocked me somewhat.

In Texas I noticed people double even triple checking my ID, as if they were trying to identify my passport as fake.

My passport full of stamps…

On another occasion in Las Vegas, I went to an Oyster Bar and ordered a dozen oysters. “Oh and I’ll have a beer please too.”

The man laughed in my face. A really patronising laugh.

“Can I see some ID please?” he said, still laughing.

“Sure” I replied.

His face turned from a smile, into a look of complete and utter shock. When I proceeded to get my passport out of my bag, he just couldn’t believe it.

“I thought you were about 16!”

“I’m 25.”

He checked the date on my passport, and I could almost hear him counting the years in his head. He then even got his supervisor to take a look, still laughing his head off.

It’s the server’s job to ask for ID. But it’s only polite and respectful to ask for it with a straight face. They don’t know who the customer is, or how much they might be willing to tip.

Not just America

There was another outrageous time in Australia where I was denied entry to Little Creatures Brewery. To give you some context, it was afternoon and they serve food there. There were also parents at the brewery with their kids. I was just going for something to eat with my friends, and we would maybe a get one beer. The drinking age is 18.

I was asked for ID so I presented my UK Driver’s Licence before entering. This wasn’t allowed, I was told. It had to be a passport.

I told the security guy I could show him a dozen other cards with my birth date on them to prove I must be over 18. Not just over 18….24.

No good. It had to be a passport, since the law required one. Prior to this I had no trouble getting in anywhere in Australia with my UK Driver’s Licence.

“But there’s kids in there, how is that fair?” I pleaded.

(In the corner of my eye, I noticed girls who I am 90% sure were younger than me walking straight in no problem. Big boobs and height do not fool me!)

Apparently unless my friend Crystal was my mother or guardian, I couldn’t go inside to eat.

My friends and I walked off and started discussing where else we should eat.

Then it came to me…we had just been on a weekend away to Margaret River, so my day pack was actually still in the car. Unless I had taken it out, my passport was probably inside my day pack!

We went back to the car, and I retrieved my passport. Grinning, I walked up to the security guard, and he smiled.


I had forgotten what it’s like for my age to come into question so much. In Europe, where are drinking laws are 18, and sometimes even 16, I don’t really come across the issue. I don’t get asked for ID, and people seem to be a lot more accurate when estimating my age. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can think of a few European countries that seem to have more short/petite women too.

You may disagree with me, but I can’t help feeling that a lot of this comes down to a bit of heightism.

People always say I should be grateful that people think I look a lot younger than I am. I hear this all the time. And yes, I’m sure when I’m 40 and people think I look 30, I’ll be pretty stoked.

Just as long as people aren’t rude. Or patronising.

Do people think you look younger than you are? Do you get ID’d all the time? I’d love to hear your stories!

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10 Responses to Why Americans Wouldn’t Believe I am Over 21

  1. Jubril August 7, 2012 at 10:30 am #

    LoL ENJOY it while you can. Atleast you don’t get 30 + which people think I am. Good points tho and see how that could get a bit annoying at times.

    • Victoria August 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

      LOL Jubril and we are the same age! i doubt anyone would guess when we stand next to each other since you are so much bigger than me!

  2. Ava Apollo August 7, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    Excuse me Victoria but this is NOT a bad thing! People always think I’m older than my big sis because I’m 4 inches taller than she is (I was 5’8 by age 14, though), and it drives me crazy! I hate that people think I’m older just because I’m tall.

    For what it’s worth, I didn’t think you were 16 when I met you. When Kate made the joke on the bus that you had turned 19 I thought to myself “no way the girl I’ve been hanging out with all day is 19!”

    I think Americans just like to joke around at each other’s expense, especially drunken ones in Vegas ;)

  3. Lindsey August 8, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Haha, I’m average height but I have quite a young face. I ALWAYS get carded, and if I open the door to sales people at my friend’s places they express disbelief that its a rented apartment and my parents aren’t home. Crazy stuff.

    I also usually get asked if I’m the younger sibling, as my three brothers are crazy tall.

    • Victoria August 9, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

      haha can’t believe they ask you if your parents are home! i guess at least it’s a good way to get out of talking to the door-to-door salesmen. “no sorry my parents aren’t home. bye!”

  4. dave August 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    My X was 4″11, mid 30′s, got ID’d everywhere, I’m 6″4 and look much older – you can imagine the looks people gave me. Wonder if Kylie still gets ID’d :)

    • Victoria August 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

      haha yeah i know the feeling Dave. I am curious to know what people are thinking when they see me on a date with someone looking taller and older than myself?! lol. I’m sure people recognise Kylie unless they’ve been living under a rock these past few years :)

  5. Gina August 13, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    Ah, that’s America. We ID everywhere. I’m 30 and if I DON’T get carded I now get slightly offended, thinking I must look like I’m 40 today!

  6. Ange March 16, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    Yup.. I’m 28, married and pregnant, 5″3 and about 105 pounds. Went to get a bottle of tester size rum with my husband so he could make some banana cake (he is a pastry chef). I didn’t have my ID with me but my husband is with me and he had an ID and he is 29. They refused us the bottle and the cashier was also very rude and looked at me like I was a criminal/irresponsible teenage girl that got knocked up. What can I say?
    Another time we were on our honeymoon, I was relaxing in an adult only pool when some guy came up to me and asked me to leave because the pool is for adults aged 16 and over. I politely said we were on our honeymoon and that I was 27(at that time). He looked shocked and didn’t believe me and I obviously had no ID with me since it was a pool. So I showed him my wedding ring and he got off my back about it.
    I don’t mind being IDed but I hate being disrespected because I look young.

  7. Hana May 14, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

    Wow, found this article randomly and can’t say how refreshing it is that I’m not the only one with this issue. I’m 23, 5’4 and around 125 lbs so about average for my height, though people call me ‘skinny’ so the weight must be distributed well.

    Didn’t realize this was such a big deal until I travelled to some other states in the US. Since my driver’s license is from a separate state from where I had been traveling, people seemed to always think it was a fake. I’d get laughed at, looked over tons of times and made to feel as though I were breaking some kind of rule. I was even asked at one place for a 2nd form of ID! At another restaurant, the waitress took my ID to her manager and said they needed to look it over since it was out of state. At a liquor store, the cashier was harrassing my husband, saying “Is she with you? She looks really young. I think she’s lying to you about her age, man” when asked for my ID, he said “This is really your age? Wow. Well…I guess I’ll let this one go”. It makes me feel frustrated that people don’t seem to take me seriously. I dress classy and it doesn’t seem to make a difference.

    It will come in handy in the future, and I just have to keep telling myself that.

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