Friday, August 19, 2005

Ageism

"Keep young and beautiful if you want to be loved!"
Popular song of around the 1930s

I was struck a few years ago, while listening to a radio discussion on "romance and sex", when one of the speakers was described by the compere as "… 66, going on 25". This was because she had acknowledged her continuing sexuality and expressed herself as still open to offers! The well-meant cliché washed over me at first, and then I found irritation creeping in. Yet again, the needs and feelings that are natural to everyone, at any age, had been characterised as belonging to the young. The real message, underlying what the speaker said, had not been heard.

‘Old’ is an age with its own qualities and flavour and style, and should be appreciated for these, instead of being constantly devalued by comparison with ‘young’. What we need is recognition for the added values of old age - its special freedoms, its well-seasoned emotions, and its accumulated riches of experience and wisdom. If we are going to live active, creative and joyful lives in old age, this should follow naturally and inevitably from the long and eventful years we have already lived; it should not be a desperate harking back to youth.

Nowadays there are few things which irritate me more than being told I am "77 years young", or "young at heart", or any of the other rather coy and patronising expressions that come the way of the old. Nor do I like to hear myself and my contemporaries automatically classed as "grannies" - "A show you could take your granny to" one theatre reviewer said - thoughtlessly stereotyping the old - and grannies - yet again.

One of the nicest compliments I ever received was paid me by a man of about my own age, who said "My, I’ll bet you were a smasher 30 years ago!" What could be more honest, realistic and pleasing than that?

Why should I want to be young again, since that can never be?
What I really want to do is enjoy being old - and ME!


[©JudithTaylor2005]

2 comments:

Stephen said...

Judith, you encourage me to belive that if life begins at 40, it doesn't end at 60 (which is only three years away for me right now). I guess I suffer from the same internal stereotyping you speak about. It's an attitude I can see you are going to help me shed!

KeithD said...

Well said!

This blogging lark suits you, you know.