Ageism: prejudice or discrimination on the basis of a person's age.
When I saw that ageism was the topic for today's post, it took me a little by surprise. I'm not sure why ... I guess I had it in my head that it seemed random. It didn't seem like something that came into my thoughts all that much. But then I gave it some consideration and I realized that it is something I think about. Actually, I think about it quite a lot.
It hasn't been until recently that I've applied the idea of ageism to my own life. I've heard my mom and my aunts talk about it for several years - how once a woman gets to be a certain age she becomes almost invisible - and I'm not quite there yet, but I see it.
You hear it all the time - Men get distinguished with age, but women just get old. Women are constantly coloring the gray out of their hair and getting Botox and collagen injections while men turn into silver foxes and grow more handsome and rugged as the years roll by. Does that part of it bother me? Yeah, okay ... it does a little. Is it unfair? Sure, but even I can't deny how incredibly handsome some older men are. (Tom Selleck and Harrison Ford, I'm lookin' at you.) There is a long list of beautiful women out there who are no longer considered to be 'in their prime' ... whenever that specific time is supposed to be. A few that really stand out for me are Helen Mirren, Mary Steenburgen and Alfre Woodard. Look like any of them at sixty-five and older? Um, yes, please.
The people I mentioned above are all celebrities - but I have many 'real life' folks all around me to illustrate the above point. My parents are prime examples. My mom is over sixty, while my step-dad is over seventy. I hear from them all the time about how they're getting old ... but I haven't seen them slow down a whole lot. They've always been incredible active and ready to take on the world. They ride roller coasters with their grandkids, they hike and snowshoe, they travel all over the country. Hell, my mom was water skiing just a few weeks ago. "Old" is not a word I think of when I go to describe either one of them. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever see them as anything but who they are now.
My great grandfather was ninety-seven when he passed away. He used to babysit me even at an advanced age. Why was he so good at it? Probably because he still remembered what it was like to be a child. It never took any effort at all for him to slip into playmate mode, and I remember the 'play dates' I had with him were some of the most enjoyable.
Ageism exists. I wish it, like so many other things, didn't, but it's a part of our society. For me, I stick to the belief that you are as old as you feel, and that anyone can accomplish anything, regardless of how many years they've spent on this earth.