Folks, take a look at this face. Um, the one in the top right of the screen, that is. Now tell me: does this look like the face of a student to you? And if so: WHY?!

I have been told I look like a student. I’m not quite sure whether to be flattered by this because it means I look like I’m fresh outta high school (unless the person meant I look like a mature student, obviously), or insulted because… well, because I’m not fresh outta high school, and where I come from, students tend to look a bit like they just went out in their pyjamas, and without brushing their hair. I mean, no offense to any students reading this, obviously, because I’m sure YOU are a fresh and fragrant student, and as well groomed as a show pony! No, really! But back to me, because, after all, it’s ALL ABOUT ME, oh yes it is.

My accuser is a random Internet person who sent me a Facebook message this morning saying that he goes to a college near me (well, in the same country, anyway. So, not really that near me.) and can he just ask what it is I’m studying, and which course I’m on? And also: can we be friends, please?

Well, at first I thought this was some weird kind of Facebook spam, and that I should just ignore it, but then I thought, "Be nice, Amber. For maybe there is another Amber (!) who actually is a student as this dude’s college, and maybe it was this other Amber he was trying to reach!" So I sent back a short but polite message saying "Sorry, dude, I think you have the wrong Amber, for I am no student, not I!" Or words to that effect. This is what he sent back to me:

"no amber i found u on facebook last night,and sent u message,i asked u if ur student and if ur student then wht course ur doing,and if ur not student then its ok,u looks like an student thats why i asked u,anways take care,im living in XXXXX and studying in XXXX,wana ask u if we can be friends???"

(Note: the bold text is mine, and he didn’t actually write "XXXXX" – I did that because I figured the seat of learning in question might not want people to know it’s apparently churning out illiterates. Miaow!)

Anyway, shocking use of txt spk (AAAARGH!) aside, I was bewildered by this message. I LOOKS LIKE AN STUDENT? Really? WHY? I mean, I use the same photo on my Facebook profile as I do on this blog, so my question to you all is this: what is it about me that just screams out to people: "I IS AN STUDENT! Write me messages in txt spk! I will like it!" WHAT?

I did appreciate his "quick recap" of the previous message, though, because my feeble brain needed that to be able to grasp just what exactly was going on. Those of us who is students are like that, you see.

ETA: It’s not the idea that I look younger than I am that made me scratch my head over this a bit, by the way, it’s the fact that my appearance apparently identifies me as having a specific occupation, with that occupation being "student". You know, like if someone looked at you and said, "oh, you look like a nurse," or "you look like a train driver" or something. So my question isn’t "do I look younger than I really am", rather "what it is about me that says "I am a younger person who is a student" as opposed to "I am a younger person who works as a receptionist in a cardboard box factory", for instance. 

  1. Take it as a compliment. I constantly get IDed – hell, last time I HAD ID the checkout guy decided I don't look EXACTLY as I do in the pic on my driving licence (i.e. my hair is a different colour, AND I WAS 17! Durr!) and so refused to serve me. The only way I can deal with this is to pretend it is a compliment and a good thing that at 27 I look – ummm – 17!!

  2. Just to clarify: I'm not asking about whether I look younger than I am, because I already know that. What the guy has said is that I look like "A STUDENT". And there are lots of young people who aren't students, so I'm just wondering what it is about me that makes me look like I AM one.

  3. This reminds me of the time I was having my hair cut and the woman asked me if I "have any children." At the time I was 20, and I it was an interesting deviation from the usual question of "what high school do you go to?" After that, I decided I preferred the high school question to the children question.

  4. I think everyone thinks that anyone under about 35 is a student these days. I look younger than my age (nearly 29) too, and people often ask me if I'm a student. (About 5 times in one day a few weeks ago!)

    Which is better than being 21 and asked about school (true story). Then again, it may just be that I'm scruffy. Have you been wearing your sweats and Uggs out in public? 😉

  5. Okay. I'm of the student variety (unfortunately) and my answer is this:

    1) You DO look young.

    2) Students are entirely self involved and only know students and thus, anyone who looks of reasonable intelligence and/or is not a scally 'looks like a student'. I'm being entirely general of course, but it's largely true.

    Blame his fear of finding out what the real world full of different people is really like, it casts no aspersions on your personal grooming!

  6. I'm also a student, but I'd take it as a compliment. In Cambridge, there are loads of chic students and the archtypal scruffy look is pretty rare!

    But maybe that's just me, as I always wear heels and makeup to uni and wouldn't dream of wearing anything resembling a hoody or PJs outside ever!

    How students look is as variable as how different people look who live in the same city. I think he must have meant that you look young and intelligent!
    (I doubt that made any sense)
    Laura xx

  7. Since I am pushing 30 and always get carded (last year, on the train, the ticket-man asked me if I wanted a Children's ticket. The age limit is 16). Thus, people presume I am still a student, because that is what young people do more often than not.

    Never mind the bugger, though. He probably just thought you looked fresh-faced and steeped in learning and knowledge.
    You can be _my_ Facebook friend instead. I will never accuse you of being a student 🙂

  8. Wow – that was quite possibly one of the worst examples of trying to pull on the web that I've ever seen.

    Si's a member of a website on which, when people post in txt spk, they get completely ignored. I think this should be ratified as Internet-law, personally.

  9. Maybe because of the shy smile on the picture…
    Don't worry, I have exactly the same problem as you, but I don't mind that much (exept when I am on a job interview…)!

  10. Well I'm somewhat of a student myself and I walk past a load of university students every day on my way into work, however I'm sad to say that you do not look like a student.

    Most students I know, and see every day, really don't appear to brush their hair in the morning, let alone wash their face and apply make up as you appear to have done in the profile picture above.
    Sure you appear to look on the younger / mid side of your 20s but that doesn't mean you're automatically defined as a student because of that 🙂

  11. People ask if I'm a student or undergraduate or presume that I live in halls (or with my parents!) and I'm way past thirty. I've been offered student discounts and only three years ago, was asked if I was over 18! I think it's because I wear glasses and quite skinny so it gives me a geeky look and I also live in a room in a shared house. The area where I live is predominantly "youthy" and "studenty" with colleges and varsities nearby, so when people often assume that I attend those faculties.

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