Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Before the holidays, The Washington Post ran an article that really resonated. At my age, it’s time to fight everyday ageism — especially when I’m guilty of it starts with a mention of birthday cards that make old age jokes, compliments (you don't look your age), and even lying about one's age. The author explains that this type of action is indicative of everyday ageism, that is "reinforcing the stereotype that old is bad (and young is good). I’d absorbed the negative messages about being older." Please don't think this is something that happens occasionally. (Just think about greeting cards and party decorations). The article notes that "the University of Michigan in conjunction with AARP reported the findings of its National Poll on Healthy Aging, which described how those .... 50 to 80 ... are bombarded with negative and hostile stereotypes."
Here are some telling results from that poll:
The poll examined older adults’ experiences with nine different forms of ageism, which fall into three buckets: exposure to ageist messages (like advertising), ageism in interpersonal relationships (what friends or family say) and internalized ageism (negative beliefs we absorb).
According to the poll, “more than 80 percent of those polled say they commonly experience at least one form of ageism in their day-to-day lives.” And 40 percent said they routinely experience three or more forms of this everyday ageism...."
The article notes the physical and psychological impact on those subjected to everyday ageism. And it's just not in person interactions. [T]he more time we spend watching television, browsing the Internet or reading magazines, the more likely we are to experience everyday ageism, meaning negative — and incorrect — images of older people such as those depicting us as frail or dependent, or unable to use new tech devices or social media platforms." The article offers some steps we can take to push back against this everyday ageism.
I plan to use this article in my class. My hope is it will make my students think...and change their behaviors.
Thanks to Professor Naomi Cahn for sending me the link to the article.