I was all of the above at some point, but now I'm a 24 year old with braces. It is surprising how many people struggle with age assessing me.
For example at a recent trip to my local contraception clinic I was discussing with a nurse how much easier the clinic is for me to get to and to be been seen by a nurse rather than trying to get in at my doctors. The Conversation went something like this;
Nurse: "Yes it must be difficult trying to get an appointment outside of school, I don't suppose you can just leave a lesson can you."
Me : "School? I don't go to school."
Nurse: "Oh sorry, do you go to college then, a lot of young people I see prefer to go to colleges now rather than staying on at school"
Me: "No, I work full time, I'm 24, I finished school a while ago."
Nurse: "Oh god, sorry. I thought you were younger than that what with the..... you look younger than 24, I wish I looked so young!"
Me: "It's ok, you're not the first"
Nurse: "Oh yes look, here's your date of birth, 1988, yes 24"
The rest of the appointment was rather awkward to say the least, but it happens to a lot of people. Braces are just something that people associate with young people, children and teenagers, like grey hair with old people.
You rarely see or hear about adults with braces, particularly in the UK and braces are often portrayed in films, TV and other media as part of the nerdy/geeky teenager stereotype role (along with glasses and spots). Well not any more! Not while they are attached to my teeth!