aging gracefully – it’s a shame really.

{warning} I am grumpy today and this post might lean on the ranty side.

There are those who say to me that I should be grateful when it happens. There are those who say “Oh you are lucky” blah blah, but to be perfectly honest, I am not. I don’t find it funny or complementary at all. We live in a world where people are judged 100% of the time by how they look on the outside. Every time I am mistaken for being much younger than I am, a few things happen. After I get the past the shaming for not being the age that the person that I was, and the “oh you don’t look that old” or the I should be grateful bit, I realize that I am being judged on something that has nothing to do with me.

Age , much like physical appearance, is an arbitrary idea after all. So is the construct of what the process of growing older should be/ is. There is a strange expectation that I encounter almost daily in the workplace or socially that a person should wear their age/ experience appropriately and that I should look like I am turning 47 in eight months, not 27 (although I was recently mistaken for being younger than 19 when trying to buy wine at the liquor store). Even those ‘let us guess how old you are by your face’ apps peg me in the late teens, early twenties. Stupid.

I wouldn’t really care if these mistakes didn’t impact me directly, but of course, they do. I have been on the receiving end of some pretty harsh criticism in the past because I looked too young to really know how to do anything in the line of work that I was in. Too young meant too inexperienced to have an opinion let alone the ability to get the work done and well. It can be very frustrating when it happens because the end result invariably is my opinion does not count because I have no experience to back it up (very frustrating when I was job hunting let me tell you).

People also think I am lying to them and I am forced to show (in some cases) identification to “prove” that I am as old as I say I am. Imagine what a pain in the ass that is going to be like for me when I am trying to get the Seniors’ Discount!?? Bloody hell. I am annoyed already.

So what is the point of this mild rant? Well, how often do you form an opinion about someone based on what they look like and how old you think that they are? I have become hyper aware of it as a result of being judged that way constantly. I have decided that it is just another mechanism we use collectively to discriminate and put people down, to shame them for being who they are. We use it as an excuse to dismiss others, and to stay their voice. Why? To somehow make ourselves ‘feel’ better, superior, more worthy. Sorry though – I don’t buy it.

One of the biggest reasons why I hate looking at a photograph of myself or having my photo taken is because of this inevitable judgement on what I look like. Like anyone else, I have wrestled with self esteem issues (hell I still wrestle, I won’t lie) based on my physical appearance and the shaming I have been a target of. Add age shaming on top of that and you get a sense of the reality. It will never end. The bottom line is: To be age positive or body positive or positive period should never come at the expense of putting someone else down. (d’uh). Shaming is not overcome by more shaming. Period.

end of rant.

 

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4 Replies to “aging gracefully – it’s a shame really.”

  1. Age is a funny beast, a variable which as the years pass you would honestly think would become less important. I hit a comfortable state when I hit 40, an acceptance of male pattern baldness and taking the lift instead of the stairs and generally saying to myself ‘you’ve peaked to soon’ which I still find surprisingly funny. The disappointed grunt I make when I get out of bed in the morning because I don’t sleep as long as I did when I was younger. The phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ seems lost with everyone being so increasingly narcissistic. Not sure what point I was trying to make here, rambling. I think there comes an age where you just fit; it has nothing to do with how people view you. It’s all about how you view yourself, I can’t offer any wonderfully insightful, magic how, just that it happens.

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  2. you are so right – age is a funny beast and there are other things to focus on (like how I see myself) that should perhaps take precedence. I want it (people’s views on the outer me) to be less important. I don’t care so much about how I look. a little, but not a whole lot (don’t wear make up, wear what is comfortable, cut my own hair etc). I wish it was less important for other people, but it is not. People can be nitpicky and critical and sometimes cruel without blinking about it.

    I hear you on the aging part – I definitely don’t sleep as much as I did when I was younger, and oh yes there are aches and pains where there never were before, but that I can accept. I even accept the quickly growing amount of white on the noggin. It is the weird discrimination that I get when people mistake me for being much younger. As you say, the idea of not judging a book by its cover is lost on a lot of people, and it is too bad that it is. It wears me down though I have to admit, to have it happen over and over again. In the end, it is more important how I view myself (and I am not usually very kind about it) which is more what I should concentrate on than anything else.

    thanks for rambling 🙂 I am looking forward to it happening – don’t need magic or bells and whistles.

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