Ageism Isn't Just About The Old | KERA News

Ageism Isn't Just About The Old

Sep 26, 2016

Today’s economic realities keep many Americans working beyond the “traditional” retirement age of 65. Why, though, do folks who have proven themselves for decades find it so hard to get hired?

On Think, Krys Boyd talked with journalist Ashton Applewhite about ageism in the workplace. She’s the author of “This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism.”   

The KERA Interview

Ashton Applewhite on …

… what is ageism: 

“Ageism has a million faces because it affects everyone. People think that it’s something that just affects people at the older end of the spectrum, and American society is so youth obsessed that older people do feel it disproportionately. But ageism is any assumptions, stereotype about person or a group of people on the basis of how old we think they are. So it’s not only the assumption that older workers are incompetent, but also that Millennials need their hands held.”

... embracing ageing:

“It never dawns on most of us that the culture in which we age plays such a huge force. The way it is now we think, ‘Oh, if I can’t open that jar, I’m not strong enough. If I can’t go down those stairs, my balance should be better.’ There should be a railing. The jar should be easier to open. These are natural changes. And this society pathologizes them so they can sell us stuff to cure it and commercializes them so they can sell us stuff to fix it, to fix your wrinkles, to fix stuff that doesn’t need to be fixed. Aging isn’t a problem to be fixed or a disease to be cured. It is a natural, powerful life long process that unites every human on the planet.”    

... hiding your age:

“Coloring your hair just to cover the grey or lying about our age, so many people do this, especially women, and I really, really understand why we do it. We do it so we can hang on to our jobs. So we can look how we think we should look on a dating site perhaps. But here’s the thing: when we do that it is like a gay person attempting to pass for straight. Or a person of color attempting to pass for white. We do it so we can escape discrimination. They are very effective strategies, but when we do that it’s not good for us. You’re concealing some fundamental aspect of your nature that’s pretty integral to who you are in the world. As importantly, it distracts, it deflects attention away from the discrimination that makes those behaviors necessary.”