Ageism – WTF?

Ageism takes many forms - are you allowing yourself to be defined by the age pigeonhole that society has stuffed you in?

There are many age-related pigeonholes into which we all get stuffed from the moment we are born. It can help with things like clothing sizes and other stuff as in 'newborn' nappies or 'toddler' groups.

However, it never occurred to me, as I worked my way gradually through all the pigeonholes of life, that when I reached the final one, I would still be quite young but would be constantly beaten back into my age pigeonhole by younger people wielding the intimidating 'over 60s' stick.

This is not the first time I have been driven to write about ageism. I was moved to gross sarcasm about it back in the summer of 2015 when attending a business conference in London .

This is not the first time I have been driven to write about ageism. Oh my goodness, no! Click To Tweet

One of the speakers I had gone to see kept referring to the 'grey pound'  - ageism at it's worst in my opinion.

When I realised he was talking about me (despite no grey hair!) I was really impressed with myself wondering how such an old duffer as me managed to catch a train to London, all alone, and take the underground to the conference centre without wetting myself or dribbling on anyone.

When I returned, I wrote a post on ageism which you can find here.

Ageism
Ageism

Ageism - if anyone says you are over the hill, may I suggest you chase the little buggers up it!

Lately, as a mature woman who feels no different to the 'me' I was at any other time of my life, I have become increasingly concerned at the number of under 60s who are poised to hit you with the over 60s stick, should you have the cheek to peep out of the pigeonhole to see what's going on in the world.

I am so sick of the ageism that is rampant, especially in the Millennial generation who have been spoilt rotten.

Don't believe me? Watch this!

My choice is to be a 'something' again, not an 'over'. It's like this...

…once we were teens, a label probably none of us really minded. Our teens gave way to three decades of being a "something" as in 20 something, 30 something and 40 something, during which we may have subconsciously written off anyone over 50 or 60 as not worth bothering about. Where did we get that idea?

Ageism - if anyone says you are over the hill, may I suggest you chase the little buggers up it! Click To Tweet

Ageism

We were utterly blind to the fact that we were eventually going to be those older people who were too offensive to us to contemplate.

Too offensive on the eye to be anywhere near us beautiful young things who owned the world - or so we thought. Turns out we were just borrowing it before the next lot of arrogant youngsters turned up and glared at us for daring to leave the house after reaching age 60.

Did we ever consider, for one moment, as we smirked at the sight of a 60-year-old doing anything we considered to be 'too young' for them, that we were nothing more than 'over 60s' waiting to happen? Did we ever look through the window of the unstoppable bus of time and notice life just whizzing past in a blur?

Was I guilty of ageism when I was younger? Yes, I probably was.

When I was still in one of the recognized 'something' decades, I was as guilty as anyone for writing off the 'over 60s' as being 'past it'. Past what? And where does that idea come from? The irony is, that when I actually became one of them, I felt no different inside to when I was 49 or 29 or 19. I suddenly realized the injustice of pigeonholing a whole chunk of society and subconsciously writing people off once they reach 60.

I finally understood the folly of ageism.

If you need any proof that we are shoved unkindly into a final and inferior age pigeonhole once past our 59th year, think about this, past 60, we are no longer worthy of our own decade as in being referred to as a '60 something'. We become 'overs', lumped in with everyone from 60 to 110.

Considering our wonderful leaders are gradually pulling the cosy retirement rug from under our feet by upping the age at which we can expect to get our state pension, I think society needs to stop all this 'over 60' nonsense and define us all as 'something's according to our decade, particularly those still expected to work and continue paying tax. I mean, who wants to be called an 'over'?

Society needs to stop all this 'over 60' nonsense - most of us are still working! Click To Tweet

Ageism persists even though no one gets a state pension at 60 any more.

If the government thinks we are fit to carry on working until we are 66 years and 4 months (as in my case), then I think it is time we were recognised as the worthy citizens we are rather than some kind of collective joke, either shoved in a social pigeonhole to rot, or, encouraged to stay away from the under 60s  by social segregation.

Think about it - look at all the classes and groups there are which are pre-fixed by the words 'over 60s'.

 As we are now expected to work well into our 60s serving a society made up of all ages, why then should we allow ourselves to be lumped together into an older, collective age group to socialise? It implies anyone from 60 upwards is too 'past it' to mix with those under 60.

If that is the case, why are we 'past it', 'old people' expected to carry on working?  

The relentless 'over 60s', 'Grey' stereotyping propaganda needs to stop and then perhaps those not long out of nappies, who think they own the world, will stop patronising us with names like 'dear' and 'grandma'.

The business world needs to stop targeting the 'over 60s' with such a depressing range of products, the premature nature of which some of us may find offensive.

They are everywhere - special insurance plans, will-making, stair-lifts, incontinence pads, denture fixatives, indigestion remedies, things to kneel on in the garden, corn pads and many other 'over the hill' products marketed to those between 60 and 110.

At 61, I have no interest in any of them and before anyone screams at me about how important making a will is, it's been done, shoved in a file and forgotten because, I am busy living.

And if in the course of living I decide I want to go to an art/yoga/keep-fit class, I would rather there was a broad age range of people attending, from teens to 90+. Why would I want to be limited to mixing with my age upwards? There is much to learn from younger people and we have much we can share with them… like a poke in the eye every time one of them patronises us with terms like 'dear', 'grandma' or 'silver surfer'.

In the most recent series of The Apprentice (UK verison), a snotty nosed little Millenial (excuse my ageism but they deserve it) suggested that the over 60s need a robot device to tell them when to take their pills and to show them how to excercise.

I can highly recommend that episode just to see Lord Sugar's reaction in the boardroom. You can see it here.

if I decide I want to go to an art/yoga/keep-fit class, why does it have to be 'over 60s'? Click To Tweet

Wouldn't you rather be defined by society as a 60, 70, 80 or 90 'something' instead of an 'over 60'?

Or are you happy to be forced into the 'over 60s' pigeonhole with everyone from 60 to 110 and socially abandoned by the younger age groups to read little catalogues full of cheap bingo dabbers, plastic knickers and Zimmer frames?

Do excuse me while I change the Led Zeppelin CD for some musical wallpaper more suited to my advanced age and while I'm at it, I will swap my jeans for a nice flowery skirt.Not!

Seriously, I do think it is high time we stopped all this ageism nonsense towards people who are on the far side of 60 and realise that we are all members of the same society no matter what age we are.

What do you think? Have you been a victim of ageism?

2 comments

  1. Yes, Gilly I am growing old and yes, I am guilty of listening to some millennial and thinking their time will come. Karma is a (bit**) great teacher.
    I don’t even want the numbers. I don’t mind being an “elder”. That sounds so wise and sophisticated. I think of Nelson Mandela and his age when he became President of South Africa.
    I don’t think I have been a victim of ageism, but I think I have one of those faces that say, “Don’t even think about it.” I have had a particularly challenging year and I remember in the summer, a pharmacy assistant packing my purchases and saying sweetly, “You can get the seniors discount today.” I thanked her and took my discount. I thought I must look old and she wanted to compensate me. I am not a senior by the way, depending on the figures you use. Close but no cigar. Being an elder has it rewards.

    Ageism really hurts in the employment sector. I have listened to countless stories of people suddenly unemployed in their 50’s and up and never being able to secure employment in their respective fields again. And the madness of raising the retirement age, it is okay if it your choice, but some jobs just are not sustainable into a certain age. I will just try to be an oldie and a goodie. So I am off now with one foot in the grave and the other on the dance floor of this great night club I found for oldsters like me. “Six o’ clock and the lights are low….”

    1. Hi Judith – thanks for this, it’s brilliant. Yes, I agree, it’s total madness raising the retirement age at a time when people in their 50s are routinely being forced out of their jobs. It’s obviously the same over there as it is here from what you say. I really do wonder how we are all managing while we are in that void between being employed and getting a pension. And I LOVE your quote, ‘one foot in the grave and the other on the dance floor’! Thanks again for reading and commenting with all you have going on.

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