I am embarrassed by how many times I’ve looked into the mirror and cringed, even said out loud, “You look so old.” or “You look like an old hag.” The person in the mirror is NOT the real me. My reflected image seems to be someone OTHER than me who I don’t like it.
My experience in the mirror is an example of internalized ageism.
Ageism is the stereotyping and discrimination based on age and is both individual and systemic. Similar to racism, homophobia and other marginalized groups, ageism can be internalized. Another example if my own internalized ageism is that I often experience a secret satisfaction when someone is surprised at “how young I look.”
How can I be so biased? Intellectually, I thought I was above internalized ageism.
I take pride in aging and I announce my age quite freely. After all, Maggie Kuhn is my heroine. I talk about ageism to anyone who will listen and often to those who tell me I look younger than I am.
Yet, now I have now become the other. And it’s gotten worse since I retired and find myself picking shopping days by who has senior discount days when. I challenge myself everyday to examine what is real for me about my aging self and what is an internalized ageism.
I am fortunate to have come across Ashton Applewhite on my journey to address ageism. Ashton Applewhite is the author of This Chair Rocks both a book and a website. Ashton is funny, smart and provides excellent analysis of ageism and how it plays out in real life personally and politically. Be sure to visit Ashton at ThisChairRocks.com.