I recently turned fifty five years old. In all honesty I don’t feel any different to the previous year or the previous ten years ! I still have the same sense of humour, the same interest in fashion, the same hobbies and I am still ME ! However I am continually faced with ageism in a negative way which sometimes makes me feel inadequate and can knock my confidence.
Ageism is the stereotyping and discrimination of individuals because of their age, usually an older age, although it can occur against the younger generation but this is far more unusual. This can have a negative effect on society as a whole, as the general perception of ‘older’ people can make these individuals feel useless and less part of society. Because of this, the younger generation can feel negative towards the older generation and this can lead to resentment, prejudice and disrespect.
There are laws against age discrimination throughout the world with respect to employment and public acceptance but ageism is still prevalent in the modern world.
One of the main areas of age discrimination is within the fashion world. We are still faced with young models on television, magazines and advertising campaigns across all areas of fashion, whether this be high street or top designer houses. My main question is …. do the advertisers not see the over 50’s as loving their fashion ? Do they think we hit the age of fifty and suddenly lapse into a world of nylon skirts with elasticated waists and frumpy shoes that have crawled out of a 1940’s shoe cabinet ? Do they really think that we stop caring about how we look once we celebrate our fiftieth birthday ?
Well, I can categorically say NO WE DON’T ! I still love to wear pretty dresses, and have my hair done with a full face of make up. I love to shop at all the high street shops including Top Shop, River Island, Primark and my two favourites, Zara and Cath Kidston. Honestly, when was the last time you saw a fifty something modelling for any of these companies ? I would say never ! Even Cath Kidston, the traditional British brand uses models which portray a typical young mother or a trendy twenty something career girl. Do these companies ever look at the demographics of their customers ? Are they not missing a trick here by ignoring the over fifties who are loyal regular customers with a good dispensable income ?
I recently saw a request by David Lloyd Fitness Clubs asking for users of one of its fitness classes to volunteer for a promotion campaign. The only restriction was that you had to be under the age of forty ! Why ? Don’t they know that they have plenty of over forty’s taking part in their club classes every single day ? I should know as I am a member of David Lloyd myself and I take part in four classes a week AND two sessions of gym AND I play tennis every week ! I regularly use their Boditrax to track my weight, muscle tone etc and I am happy to report my metabolic health age is 40 which is a massive fifteen years below my true age. Not bad going for an ‘oldie’ ! 😉
Now that brings me to a subject close to my heart. Ageism in the blogging world. The blogging world is one of the fastest growing groups in social media with bloggers producing content on almost every subject you can think of. Beauty, fashion, health, parenting, house decor, food, pets are just some of the topics covered. Blogging is such an exciting outlet for so many people and is a wonderful point of reference for us as readers. I read so many different blogs and I have learnt so much over the past few years. I have also made some wonderful online friends through my blogging. Many of these friends have been such a support and I value our friendships.
However I have seen a darker side to blogging where I have been at the receiving end of ageism within the blogging world. I do believe that there is a place for everyone in the blogging world, regardless of age, background or life experiences. However I have seen and experienced ageism as a blogger over fifty. I was once asked why I blogged at ‘my age’ as ‘no one could possibly be interested in what I had to say’ ! The comment knocked my confidence for a few days but then I gritted my teeth and decided to carry on writing as I had been doing. I love blogging and writing about topics that are meaningful and from the messages I receive I know there are many out there who also enjoy reading my thoughts.
I was also approached by someone who commented on the fact that as a fifty year old I couldn’t possibly write about anything to do with parenting as my children were now grown up and I was too old ! This astounded me ! My reaction was …..Er why not ? I have had three children, I have suffered a miscarriage, I have raised my children ( in part as a single parent ) I have seen them through their teenage years and beyond. And, I am now a grandparent. Does that make me any less of a mother ? Do I not have a vast amount of parenting experience that comes with having children who are now aged 31, 29 and 25 ( not forgetting my grandson who will be three this year ) Above all, it is quite an insult to be told I cannot possibly have any valid advice or thoughts on motherhood. Yes, I do not have an opinion on the ‘best nappy’ on the market or which pram is best value for money in 2018. BUT please give me a little credit for having a vast amount of parenting knowledge that can never be taken away from me.
My blog,of course includes topics that are more relevant to the over fifties including menopause, the loss of parents, empty nest syndrome etc but I also like to write about food and health and fashion reviews. I also run my own business which I started in my fifties, as do many women who reach a crossroads in their life with their career. Becoming self employed at this age is so fulfilling and rewarding and should prove to many that we are not on the scrapheap and we still have such a lot to contribute to society.
Ageing is not a negative curse and society should start paying less attention to a persons age and focus more on what that person is about. Style is nothing to do with age and more about confidence, something that the over fifty’s have oodles of. I wish so much that society as a whole would start giving more respect to the ‘older generation’ and letting them play more of an active role in life and especially in the media. I think it will be a slow process, although many brands are trying to make a change already, especially companies such as l’Oreal, Lancombe and Marks And Spencer who recognise that it is far better to have a wide age representation which is a reflection of true life. These companies should be applauded for their efforts and I am hopeful that others will follow too.
Have you encountered ageism in any form ? Let me know your thoughts and concerns and any improvements that you have already noticed.
Until next time dear friends