We are publicly against Ageism, aren’t we? Not OK today is it?
But have you realised that we can be quietly, almost unknowingly, Ageist against ourselves?
How does that happen?
All of us have unwittingly over the years internalised a negative view of ageing. Not deliberately, but all those adverts about staying young, not having wrinkles, cover the grey….the media emphasis on youth, the gloom images of charity campaigns, they have all slid into our heads and stuck. They become hidden values.
We have let them creep into our unconscious !
The idea that Young = Good settles in. We become ripe victims for the cult of “Staying Young”. At any signs of ageing, we judge ourselves. And do it unthinkingly, using them!
(Have you ever stopped to ask who gains from implanting these ideas in your head? Somebody is making money from it aren’t they?)
Without realising it, we have started being Ageist against ourselves! And it is very hard not to be. Doubt if most of us even recognise that we are. Otherwise bright, sensible, people see a grey hair and find themselves panicking.
In that minute they are colluding with Ageism!
It begins in midlife, usually with that first line. Not seeing it as a laughter line from years of smiling? No. That insidious voice says ‘old’.
And attached to that word are a thousand other doom words, a thousand negative images. All that inner fear of Ageing we have absorbed over the years.
Sadly without realising it, if we listen to it, if we let it affect our behaviour, we become complicit in the Ageism affecting our society.
Here are three recent examples.
1. Interviewed last week by a journalist, experienced, lively attractive person, excellent at her job.
Tells me she is over 60 but “ Daren’t own up to it, in her field”
What is happening here! She is interviewing me about Ageism but she is colluding with it. Afraid to say her age! Fearful of being judged by it. Understandably you might say.
But whenever any of us does that we are letting Ageism win, arent we?
2. Lovely walk last Spring in the Derbyshire Dales. Being a Monday, many older couples out too. Stopped and chatted to one. Walking hand in hand, they looked charmingly happy. They were! We all agreed how lucky we were to be free, to be fit, and in such a beautiful place at 70+ And in our case 80+.
Asked if I could take their photos telling them about the blog etc. “Yes”, said he. “NO!” said she “I am too wrinkly!”
Nothing would persuade her. The whole “Wrinkles are bad. It’s not OK to look old” stuff had been totally internalised. She was, quite unthinkingly, being Ageist about herself! So sad?. Such a lovely smile too.
3. Project to get older people talking about their lives. A really positive fun group, happy, enjoying their Later Years very much. Super stories.
Asked if they would record their thoughts on video? No! Again…
”I look too old”.
What have we done? Why are older people ashamed of how they look? Why are they accepting other people’s Ageist view of them?
Why are so many of us being Ageist against ourselves?
Are we cowards? Don’t think that. Pretty tough lot really.
But can you hear what I am saying?
It is no use campaigning publicly about Ageism if we too do it to ourselves. Is it? And don’t even realise that we have!
We are letting Ageism win by default aren’t we? Whenever we fail to be proud of ourselves out loud, ashamed of our having made it to our later years, that is what we are doing!
This is where the #AgeProud Campaign comes in.
A job we must tackle:
Alert people to the danger of Self Ageism. What to watch for and listen to.
Give all of us the confidence to stand up and be proud of our age, out loud. En masse!
Proud of achieving the status of being old, proud of our life experience, our maturity and our laughter lines.
Defeating Ageism won’t be done by moaning. But it will be challenged when we realise that we have a part in it too!
We need to wake up to the fact that, over the years, we unthinkingly, absorbed Ageism. It is still there. Unconsciously we judge ourselves by it.
Time to stop. Time to feel brave, strong and say out loud to ourselves and to the world. I made it, I am old and happy to be so,
Pride in xx years of life experience, on my way to real maturity, self confident, tough, proud to be old, enjoying this stage of our human lives.
Because as you get past 70, that, to our surprise, turns out to be true!