AGEISM? WHAT DOES IT MEAN? WHO DOES IT AFFECT? HOW DOES IT MANIFEST?

 

I raise up my voice—not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard… we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.

Malala Yousafzai

Women’s Radio Station

I am delighted that Fit Fabulous & 50+ has been given a slot on Women’s Radio Station.  Our first podcast will be on the subject of ageism. I hope you will enjoy listening and get involved by leaving a comment and letting me know your thoughts and feelings. Also please contact the radio station and give your feedback in order that we can know how best to serve our community of women after 50.

Ageism?

Today I want to talk about ageism. What does it mean? Who does it affect? And how does it manifest in our language, attitudes and beliefs?

Ageism is stereotyping and discrimination against individuals or groups based on age.
Stereotyping?

I would argue that unlike more obvious forms of stereotyping such as racism and sexism, ageism is more resistant to change because it is so ingrained in our ideology that it is rarely challenged or acknowledged. Words such as elderly, frail, past it, over the hill and decrepit diminish the value of older adults. Ageist terms should be as unacceptable as racist or sexist ones!

Even older individuals themselves are sometimes guilty of using ageist language and therefore ageism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. How many times have you heard an older person say, ‘I’m having a senior moment’!

Researchers have analysed the effects of ageism on society and found that cultures that venerate older generations have less ageism in their language. And as a consequence these groups of older people perform much better in memory tests. They show larger independence, defying ageist assumptions, demonstrating a healthier lifestyle, both mentally and physically.

So how does ageism affect us as women over 50?

I work as an actress and it is my heart’s desire to represent women in a positive light. However women after 50 in America and the UK on television and in film are very rarely presented in a positive light. Older women are often presented as unattractive, bitter, unhappy or unsuccessful. This can have an impact on our self-image, with thoughts of underachievement, ugliness, and disgust.

Why do we feel the need to look younger than our age?

I think the reason some women in my business are obsessed with looking younger is because we are not expected to look our age. We are expected to look younger. When people guess our age correctly it can be seen as some sort of failure. We become fearful of wrinkles, cellulite, or any other signifiers of aging.

Without the visibility and representation of older women who are aging in a healthy, happy and successful way in the media there is an implicit agreement that women never age. The idea that women do not age, and that older women are less attractive, is harmful to all women. By not challenging this we because complicit in the invisibility of older women in the media and consequently set women up to strive for something that is impossible to achieve: eternal youth.

So what can we do to bring about awareness and change?

I would love to hear your comments on how to bring about change and raise awareness on this subject. Let us become acutely aware of patronizing language on both the young, middle aged and older generation. AND let us stop feeling SORRY for older people (like it is some sort of affliction) and start to venerate a long life, experience and knowledge. Let us stay as healthy and vital as possible by learning new skills and keeping our bodies and minds flexible.

Words such as elderly, frail, past it, over the hill and decrepit when talking about age should be as unacceptable as racist or sexist words. I recently became aware of a new phrases: sexpiration date! Apparently referring to somebody who is considered past the date of attractiveness. This is offensive and quite honesty not acceptable in a society that has equality as one of its core values.

We need to kick ass!

Let’s petition, demand, shout and kick ass, to get more older women on our screens. But most importantly let us make peace with the aging process and be happy and proud of our age. And lets stop trying to conform to a standard that does not exist.

Old Souls & Beautiful Hearts!!

Aging is in the mind and in the soul. We often refer to wise people as being, old souls. Well when I grow up I want to be a very OLD soul with a huge heart and a fierce spirit. Join me, have your voice heard, express what is in your soul, and shout as loud as you can. We need to unite, we need to make noise, we need to bring change so that future generations will feel deeply valued and appreciated whatever their age, whatever their sex, whatever their race!! In this year of ‘The Woman’ let us fight for equality across every strata of society. Like Emily Pankhurst, let us stand up for women, of all abilities, cultures and ages.

Please get in touch if you have experienced discrimination because of your age? Or Please get into the conversation if you have a positive experience to share.

And if you have any further questions or comments for ‘Fit, Fabulous & 50+ please get in touch  in the comments box. You can also tweet about us.  Or join us on Facebook or Linkedin. And if you would like to hear more sign up to our newsletter. You are important to us so let us know how we can best serve you and our community of Fit, Fabulous & 50+ women.  Thank you for taking the time to read our blog and wishing you a happy and healthy summer.  Bye for now!  Margaret Tully

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