Let’s face it. After the “Over the Hill” birthday cards, banners and party favors begin at age 50, the terms used to describe the process of getting older...well, really suck. They are nearly always less than flattering, encouraging or inspiring. Check out a few plum examples below and notice your reaction when reading them out loud.
Yuck! Who likes being called a senior? Only those who are in the last year of high school in the USA, or those in upper management positions use it with pride. Sadly, the implications of being a senior are associated with little old ladies bent over a cane or pushing a walker.
Not me! Many of us wince at the thought. While many tribal nations still retain the true meaning of the word elder, modern society has lost any of the original reverence and respect.
Forget it! Who wants to be “mature” anymore? Only 18-25 year olds want to be mature.
Here are a few more gems. Remember to read them out loud and see if any even remotely sound appealing or accurate:
- Old goat
- Over the hill
- Bitty (or biddy)
- Old fart
- Blue hair
- Old bag
No wonder so many women after age 60 run for the Botox, expensive hair coloring and personal trainers. According to society, aging must be avoided at all costs! The unappealing minefield of aging adjectives implies a lack of vigor, vitality or fun—and there is nothing compelling or aspirational about it.
We Need New Ways of Talking About Aging
“If it is no longer ok to be sexist or racist, how come it is ok to be ageist?” asks Ashton Applewhite, author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism. “People are hungry for a narrative that rings true to our experience of growing older,” she says.
And this experience is positive. Scores of women in their 60s report feeling happier, sexier and more in-tune with themselves than ever before. As a guest on the Colbert Show, Jane Fonda recalled writing a book about aging—in her 40s! When asked if she wanted to go back to that age, she said, “Honey, I wouldn’t go back TEN years. I was so old in my 20s. I was ancient in my 30s. I’m so much younger now. When people say, ‘When were you at your happiest?’ I’d have to say now.”
How are you living your best life and defying ageist stereotypes?
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