My name is Roma and I’m an ageist. Strange revelation for someone who gets senior discounts at the hardware store and has been writing about the need to tackle ageism head on.
I remember when I was 6 and I noticed that my dance instructor’s neck looked oddly like a turkey’s and her chest was puckered and wrinkled – Yuck, that’s gross, that will never happen to me (FYI, it slowly is).
I remember when I was 10 and saw my grandmother naked in the bath for the first time. Her large breasts almost flat against her chest and hanging down to her belly button. I was traumatized! Seriously, I still vividly remember thinking OMG, I don’t ever want to have those! (luckily I dodged that bullet).
I remember the thought of “elderly” people having sex as totally disgusting and a visual I could not even imagine (looking forward to “doing it” at 90 now).
I remember laughing at all the jokes about doddering seniors and assuming anyone over the age of 60 was completely clueless. They knew nothing about my world or anything in it.
“Dress your age”
“‘You’re too young to let your grey go”
“You’re too old to have long hair”
I have seen these subtle changes in many of my friends, acquaintances and relatives. They begin dressing more conservatively and wear long pants and scarves around their necks in the middle of summer (no, I’m not hot, why?).
Why did the wrinkled chest of my dance instructor bother me so?
I think because most women, certainly during the last century, covered up all signs of their aging as best they could. As they aged, their necklines got higher and their skirts got longer. Monthly (if not bi-weekly) trips to the salon ensured that no grey’s made an appearance until well into their 70’s, and after that blue hair was the norm.
Somewhere along the line the natural aging of our bodies became something to hide and feel shameful of instead of celebrated as a life well lived. How can we eliminate the stereotypes of aging if we continue to dress the part? Click To Tweet
How do we change this? By normalizing aging. By not hiding our wrinkles, by resisting the urge to “nip and tuck” and by not dying our #silverhair.
But outward appearance is only part of the story:
“Act your age”
“You’re too old to (insert silly thing here)”
“You’re too old to (insert learning new skill here)”
How do we expect the younger generation to respect our experiences and look to us for guidance if we don’t remain curious about the world around us and strive to remain relevant and up to date with current trends in technology, business and the world?