How do you Protect Yourself from Ageism?

Pamela Chan/

“I am not afraid of aging. I’m afraid of people’s reaction to my aging.” Barbara Hershey

Ageism is everywhere, it seems. You can get dinged for being too old for everything from who you should date to whether you can handle a job or current technical skills. I started dodging “cougar” jokes when I was 30. Does a man ever have to dodge the male version of a cougar joke? Have you ever checked out the social media trail of a larger company in your city and noticed that people seem to come from the same demographic in terms of age – and it’s not yours?

“A professional woman aged 45 or more must plan for the likelihood that she will be working for herself in the future (not by choice – but believe me, it’s for the better).” (Suzanne Leclair, We Need to Talk About Gen-X, Ageism, Work and Semi-Retirement.)

All those “don’t feel bad about turning 40/50.  I’m embracing my wise, older years and don’t care how I look or what people think about me anymore” pieces totally miss the point. I support people’s decisions to not discuss their age. It’s not that they’re feeling bad about how old they are. They’re just being strategic to protect their options in the workforce and in their private life.  I saw this story by chance as I went to check my e-mail. The funny thing in this case is that we’re talking about a difference of one year.

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Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, 2005.

I feel sorry for those people who don’t have close friends who are 10, 20, 30+ years older than they are. I have no time for men who think they can only date women who are younger – and often much younger – than they are.  I am aggrieved by the notion that Baby Boomers’ offspring are the only ones who can be innovative and have up-to-snuff technological skills in the workplace.  I will make no apologies for not discussing my age in circles and circumstances where ageism will work against me.  I think it’s regrettable that, unlike in other countries that come to mind, I don’t live in a society that celebrates older women as being smart, powerful, relevant, sexy and gorgeous.

“What used to be a meritocracy has become a don’t-hire-anyone-over-30 situation (certainly not over 40) — right under the nose of the tech media.” (Ted Rall, Don’t Hire Anyone Over 30: Ageism in Silicon Valley)

If you do share your age and you shave off 2, 5 or 10 years, I won’t feel sorry for you. I guess in your own way you’re being strategic too. It’s just a shame that it has to be that way.

“When I see women having to hide their age because it could negatively affect job offers in their profession, or even their potential love life prospects, it saddens me. We live in a society that celebrates youth, and in a consumer environment that targets the young ones. […] I dream of a day when owning one’s age is not an isolated event, but something natural.” (Why 50 is Definitely Not the New 30.)

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