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Good Things, Humor, Literary Ramblings and Thoughts, Love and life, Non-Fiction, Other Musings, Why Not?

Ageism – Does it Exist and If So, WHY?

I really don’t like to get online and complain. I prefer to complain to the people I know. You know, one of those good old bitch sessions where you know that those you’re bitching to will most likely agree with you.

After all, we all want validation for our feelings, right?

I can remember a time when one didn’t get validation for anything and if you were unhappy with something you could either, A) Suck it up; B) Shut up; C) Take action and be labeled a troublemaker, bitchy, irrational, emotional and one of my all-time favorites, “it’s a woman thing,” or D) Seethe internally and do nothing.

Maybe that’s where all our anger and animosity is coming from, the seething thing. But, as always, the pendulum swings from the absolute and farthest point of nonsense to the other side of nonsense when change is afoot. Eventually, it settles to a nice happy midpoint where, for the love of God, is where we all really want it to be.

Heard, understood, protected and valuable.

I’m seriously getting off-topic here but stay with me because I’m leading up to something. I am a woman and I do have to talk it out, you know?

Life Experience and Education

I really never expected that opportunities would begin to dwindle when I reached my 50s. I thought 50s were the new 30s, (whatever that means) but I am finding that’s just some tagline generated from somewhere. Most likely to sell a magazine, product or thing to that demographic. Put a determined-looking, flawless-skinned, older woman dressed in a power suit and sky-high heels on the cover of a magazine or inside the pages of one with a “Five Things to Increase Your Potential as an Older Woman in Today’s Workforce” article and BAM problem solved. Right? 

Illustration & copy by me, Brigitte with the help of Pages.

 

I mean what intelligent woman couldn’t apply those fluff-written tips to score big? This one, that’s who and I consider myself to be pretty damn smart. Instead I end up feeling lacking, much like I do when I look at some Instagram feeds and think to myself, who are all the wildly successful and gorgeous people and how the heck are they all doing this?

What every working woman wants to wear to work every day. Heels.

Does life experience and education account for anything anymore and if not, then we all need to reassess things. Because if I knew I was going to run into this, I wouldn’t have wasted all that time, energy and serious money (that took me years to pay off) for a degree. 

Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Truth-Telling

In our 20s, our youthful beauty is power. And if you’re a 20-something woman reading this, you ARE beautiful, trust me on this please. Most women in those beauty magazines you may be reading don’t look like that in real life. My instagram, website and Linked In page photo has a filter on it—yep, I did it—and so do most people. It’s just too tempting not to smooth out lines and whiten teeth. 

Unfortunately looks matter, especially for women. More so than ever. And yes, I’m sure men face this as well, but I don’t believe they do to the extent women do. I love men, I’m married to one and he’s incredibly sensitive and a particularly awesome human being. 

Rent a movie from the 80s or 90s and you’ll see what real people looked like at a certain age. That was attainable. Women had sprayed, stiff hair like the rest of us normal humans and men had chest hair and other hair all over their bodies. Now everyone’s hairless and perfect. What the hell? I don’t think people even know how humans are supposed to look as they age anymore. 

That hair was stiff and sprayed. There was plenty more under that suit. His suit.

The amount of information we are bombarded with is astronomical and it lends itself to shorter attention spans, shortened ways of communicating and enormous consequences on how we treat one another and relate to each other, socially and globally. We are becoming desensitized and everything seems to be fodder for late-night comedy. I don’t give a crap if I sound old-fashioned, but seriously can we please get back to a sense of decency and social decorum?

To Be Old-er or Not to Be Old-er

I hesitated in writing this post. What if I offended someone? What if a potential employer viewed this and interpreted this the wrong way? What if I seemed emotional, too heart-on-my-sleeve sappy sentimental longing for the old days and ways kind of person? And then, I thought well, I guess I do long for some of the “old ways,” but only the ones that empower people and that includes those that for whatever reason, in our society, are deemed unimportant once reaching a preconceived “use by” date. I mean, do I have a “Best if used by 45” bar code on me somewhere??!”

Then I thought would I even want to be around or work for someone who didn’t appreciate me or honor all my wonderfulness and intelligence despite my being a 50-something?

Hell to the no. 

It’s not that I can’t still get some fairly decent writing gigs, I do. But I’ve encountered ageism on interviews and yeah, it makes me seethe. That can’t be good for my health. 

Maybe this will change during all this upheaval that we’re experiencing. Maybe I’ll start a movement.

Or maybe I’ll just go to some European beach where 50 somethings are appreciated for their mind, body and spirit, shake my fist at a glorious sunset while sipping a nice Sancere and exclaim, “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Me, metaphorically, raging.

So, how’s it going for you these days?

About Brigitte

Writer/Editor/Wanderer

Discussion

23 thoughts on “Ageism – Does it Exist and If So, WHY?

  1. What l would give to be in my fifties again! A great article–and unfortunately too true. Love you Brigitte. – Lou

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    Posted by on thehomefrontandbeyond | April 26, 2018, 6:09 pm
  2. excellent post and so very true, unfortunately. Rage away, my friend. I feel as though I should have colored my hair but then I am like..naaah. I am who I am … dorky and old.. silver and gaining wrinkles by the second. They are symbols of a life being lived… plus I match the dude 🙂

    Posted by UpChuckingwords | April 26, 2018, 7:00 pm
    • It’s odd that we all know it’s the truth, isn’t it? I guess with all the transparency everyone talks about, this is another thing we should be transparent about. You are NOT dorky and old. You are obviously secure in your awesomeness and gray is one of my favorite colors btw. All my walls are painted grey owl. You do match your dude and you two make a fine-looking pair. Thanks Audra.

      Let me know if you want to join me on that European beach. I’ll have my people call your people.

      >

      Posted by Brigitte | April 26, 2018, 7:07 pm
  3. I’ve heard similar reports of ageism from people I know who have looked for new jobs after the age of 50. It’s a shame that’s the case, because a wealth of experience often makes for a productive and self-directed employee. Plus, many older people are just as tech savvy as some of the younger ones are, certainly at least enough to succeed in the workplace. Sorry you’ve had to experience it. It’s just one more “ism” this country must deal with.

    Posted by Carrie Rubin | April 26, 2018, 9:01 pm
    • Hi Carrie, I read an article on Linked In about a 50-something guy who had vast experience as a graphic illustrator and artist but he was experiencing it as well so maybe it isn’t just women who go through this. Some women I know have experienced this in their 40s as well and to your point, it’s really a shame. I agree with you that seasoned or mature professionals do have experience in different areas that companies need. I think some of decision-makers’ reasonings are that a 20 or 30 something will logically spend more time with the company, I’m assuming because they have more life left to live and have “newer” ideas (certainly 40 plus humans can still think creatively and “new”). I think the day of people staying at one company for more than 5 years is far less common that it used to be so I’m stumped as to why this would be an issue at all.

      I should take a page from your book (pun intended) and finish my NIP (novel in progress). There’s certainly no ageism when it comes to good writing. I don’t know where you fall in the age spectrum but as a writer, you’re most certainly top-notch. Thanks for stopping in—always great to hear your insights.

      >

      Posted by Brigitte | April 27, 2018, 7:58 am
      • Thank you. 😊 And I agree about people moving on more. It’s unusual to see someone stay in the same workplace for decades like they used to.

        Posted by Carrie Rubin | April 27, 2018, 8:56 am
      • I know! There are still areas that look upon someone “moving around” as a bad thing. I’ve always thought, it gives one more depth and experience. Maybe that’s because I’ve moved around so much. 😂🧐

        >

        Posted by Brigitte | April 27, 2018, 9:03 am
  4. Hi Brigitte. Good to see you again.

    Two notes from a guy’s perspective. 1) I like getting older. When people ask if I would like to be age “x” again, my response is always the same – “And be that stupid again? No thanks.”

    2) As I get older, it’s the attractiveness of older women I notice.

    Posted by aFrankAngle | April 27, 2018, 6:59 am
  5. Hi Brigitte. Honestly, I think if a potential employer read this post, they should hire you for your brilliant ideas and writing style. Yes, unfortunately, ageism is alive and well, but I think it applies across the board. My husband was laid of from his job at a major corporation at 54 and 30 years of service at said corporation and he never has been able to find a position even closely similar in prestige or compensation since. (Don’t worry, we’re okay and that was some time ago). And I’ve seen the same with clients of mine. One guy had two young kids, was laid off in his late 40s and spent three years looking for a job before he finally found something in his field.

    It seems that if a potential hire doesn’t actually know someone, it’s practically impossible to get an interview. Most applications are only accepted online and many times, the applicant never even hears from the company. While I almost never complain about things being better in the “old days” this is one place where I think things are seriously broken.

    It’s always good to hear from you – however few and far between! We’re doing great. Just got back from a wonderful trip to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and looking forward to summer.

    Hugs,

    Cathy

    Posted by Cathy Ulrich | April 27, 2018, 9:51 am
    • Hi Cathy! Soooo wonderful to hear from you and goodness, thank you for that compliment. I hope you’re right but I’m not holding my breath. Ha! That’s too bad about your husband, but I think you’re right. I really don’t get it since people in this age group (and beyond!) are active, healthy human beings with a vast arsenal of experience and ideas. It’s ridiculous about your husband and your friend, but sadly I think it’s the way it is now and I’ve heard similar stories. And, you so right about interviewing. First, there’s a phone interview, then maybe another, then in person and usually it’s with a “team” of people and it can last hours. It’s nuts and I do agree it’s broken.

      I once interviewed with a company that—I only had email contact with and then was directed to “interview” online through a set of questions. Questions would pop up and there I was, interviewing to a camera…with a timer ticking in the corner to answer old-fashioned questions about How did you resolve a conflict or What is the best thing you liked about your last position, what was the worst thing, what are your strengths and what are your weaknesses (seriously???). If you didn’t answer within the timer, the camera cut off and another question popped up. It was impersonal and dehumanizing! After the “interview,” a Thanks for your time! popped up and lets you know they’ll call you if “further steps in the interview process are needed.” The company is then able to take that taping of you and view it with other decision makers in the company. It’s like a freaking audition. I don’t know why I did that but I won’t again. I should have worn a bunny mask and a Shakespearean collar and answered in pig latin. It’s obvious that kind of interview is so a company can find out gender, race, age, etc.

      Anyhoo! That trip sounds magnificent! Where are all your beautiful photos? I hope you were living in the moment with Peter and perhaps we’ll all get to see your glorious photos soon. Be well, Cathy and thank you.

      >

      Posted by Brigitte | April 27, 2018, 10:25 am
  6. You are awesome, and I love you.

    Posted by Jeff | April 27, 2018, 1:00 pm
  7. This topic is so serendipitous as I recently got a new desk neighbor at work who’s a lovely lady and has brought up the fact that she sometimes feels out of place, especially at a company that skews so young. I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum, getting dismissed for being young as well as seeing how my age benefits me, and ageism is definitely a thing. And like you said, women do get the shorter end of the stick because looks matter more than it does for men. I read an article about how older men were perceived as being authoritative and worldly, while older women were perceived to be slower, more emotional, and full of potential issues (I’m paraphrasing but you get the gist). I have no helpful answer here but I hear you, I see you, and I say you should just go to that European beach and enjoy.

    Always a joy to see you here. Work has been all sorts of crazy lately, but fortunately, there aren’t any people problems. Those are always the worst and toughest to get through. I have a lot of travel planned in the next few months and I’m excited to just get away. Sometimes you just have go away somewhere and get some perspective, you know? 😉

    Posted by lillianccc | April 28, 2018, 12:55 pm
    • There seems to be much agreement about this topic! I think there are workplaces where that isn’t such an issue…publishing, educational institutions, writing, the arts…seem to be more accepting of all kinds of people, all ages, colors, sizes, etc., which are the places I like to be! :). I think it may exist culturally as well; there may be parts of the country that aren’t as “ism” anything as others. I didn’t think of you being dismissed because of being younger but I can see and understand that happening as well. I hope to do some of that traveling soon as well and you are so right that by viewing life in another place can give a one a new perspective, not to mention doing wonders for the soul. Thanks, Lillian.

      >

      Posted by Brigitte | April 28, 2018, 1:49 pm
  8. Does agesim exist? Yes it does
    I know too many people (more women then men) who find they get to a certain age and can no longer get a job or advance further in their job because of their age, it is wrong but it is a fact of life maybe one day things will be different but who knows.

    Posted by joannerambling | April 28, 2018, 6:35 pm
    • Hi Joanne and welcome back! Thank you for stopping by again. Like you, I hope it does change, but I’m skeptical. I was watching a program the other night about women in business and politics in Finland. It is vastly different there but I’m sure they have some problems we don’t! :).

      Posted by Brigitte | April 30, 2018, 6:09 pm

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Word of the Day

bla·sé
bläˈzā/
adjective
  1. unimpressed or indifferent to something because one has experienced or seen it so often before.
  2. apathetic to pleasure or excitement as a result of excessive indulgence or enjoyment.

Synonyms:

indifferent, unconcerned, uncaring, casual, nonchalant, offhand, uninterested, apathetic, unimpressed, unmoved, surfeited, jaded, unresponsive, phlegmatic. 

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