Someone please stop me if I get on a rant here. My fear is once I open up this can of irritation towards ageism, I won’t stop complaining.
But let’s talk about this for just a minute. I’ve been experiencing ageist behavior, every since I turned 50. It started with my glasses.
I’ve been wearing reading glasses for most of my adult life. I am extremely far-sighted and can spot an eagle a mile away. That part is really cool. And needing glasses to read wasn’t so bad until I reached that certain age.
All of a sudden I would get comments like, “Can I hold this farther away so you can see it?” or “Uh oh, must be getting old, you need glasses!”. And there have been many more statements said in that vein. Why do people do that?
Another ageist remark I’ve noticed is whenever I’m hot someone will inevitably start talking to me about what to do about hot flashes. I want to scream, “I’m always hot! And I always have been!” I’m one of those people who just happen to run hot. I prefer weather that is no warmer than 72 degrees, which is why I live in Santa Barbara and not Arizona.
Even my sons are the same way. When my oldest son was born, I took him to the doctor because his feet were looking funny. His doc said, “Cut the feet out of his pajamas, this kid is hot”. Same with my youngest son. I bet no one will ever talk to them about hot flashes.
I know, I know, I just caught myself ranting. I’ll take a deep breath and slow down.
Here’s the thing, women are treated different than men as we age. Somewhere along the way, it became okay to sort of make fun of an older woman. Men become distinguished and women become old in the eyes of too many people.
I’m five years older than my husband, John (yeah, it will take me awhile before I get to that part in my blog). I rarely think anything of it, and neither does John. The only time we laugh about it or bring it up is when we hear a song from the ‘70s and I say something like, “I remember that song, I was 13 when it came out”, and John will say, “Yeah, I was 8”.
But I’m surprised when other people comment about me being older. John has actually been praised for marrying an older woman. Like he deserves a medal for it. No one does that to a younger woman who marries a man five years her senior.
This has become an acceptable prejudice towards mature women. And we need to put a stop to it.
I think Aston Applewhite said it best in her Ted Talk on ageism: “It’s embarrassing to be called out as older, until we quit being embarrassed about it”.
It’s taken me a while, but I’ve decided to stop being irritated and instead, just proudly say I’m 58.