Age and age-ism… and all the “ism”s…

Age and age-ism… and all the “ism”s…

I was recently speaking with my dad, who next year, is supposed to retire. He doesn’t want to. He brought up ageism! And I couldn’t believe it! He’s feeling the pressure of, like he put it, “not being 50”. He sees a discrimination towards the older employees that I thought only applies to women over 40. We talked about it for a while. The point that drove it home for me is that my dad is awesome! I’d employ my dad without hesitation! He’s incredibly hard-working, dedicated, a true leader that brings up his teams, that will fight for all of his employees, that will put in an all-night-er, even at his age of 64 years young, if that’s what needs to be done.

We talked about working past the “retirement age”. He’s got colleagues that retired at 39-40 years old. Yes, those guys chose a military career, so they retired early. But, turns out, they didn’t just sit at home after retirement. They took up jobs because nobody likes to feel useless.

Now, my birthday is in a couple of days, and I’ve always struggled with my age. When I was a child I felt that I was so much older than my years, and found it easy to make friends with my mom’s friends. But as I went through college and started my work life, I realized the stigma that we, as a society, have towards “older” women in business.

Somehow, a gray haired man at work is distinguished, knowledgeable, and wise. A woman with graying hair is not! She’s simply just “not taking care of herself”.

We all age. Some embrace it. Some deny it. But we all age! I have a couple of friends in their 50s, and he’s looking better than he ever did! He is in great shape, is a daddy to a 2-year-old baby girl, and picked up DJ-ing as a hobby first, but now is actually getting really good at it. On my girlfriend’s side, she’s a CrossFit powerhouse, trim and fit, and can take on any guy at the gym and best his PR. She’s happily single, traveling. She dyes her hair. He does not! He thought that it was ok to go into DJ-ing at 50. She would never be that adventurous, not because she isn’t adventurous, but because we would never think of that when we turn 50, not because we can’t do it, but because society would implode! lol Can you imagine a woman in her 50s, DJ-ing? No? Shame on you! Well, shame on all of us. WE are the ones that keep propagating these myths, these ideals of beauty, these different rules for men and women, these different expectations on how women and men should age.

Do we really tell our men that it’s ok for them to pursue whatever dream and passion they have, regardless of age, and then tell our women that we should hide our age, and pretend to be younger so that we get accepted, respected and appreciated?

We have Top 40 Under 40, and Top 30 Under 30. Where are the Top 1000 over 40? Shouldn’t we celebrate age, and its accomplishments? Aren’t we, men and women alike, more distinguished, more knowledgeable, better to take on larger responsibilities as we go into our 40s and 50s and 60s?

Yes, my age has been bothering me, but not because of the number, but because of societal expectations of what I should be doing at my age, and what I should have at my age, and what I should be looking like at my age. I don’t fit that mold. But I still live in a society that expects me to adhere to their ideals of what I should BE like. Women and men alike, we’re being too quick to dismiss an older applicant for a job because of either, too much experience, or “s/he won’t be able to handle it at her/his age”.

We look to employ younger and younger. We like to be surrounded by youth. And we continue to propagate this idea that women in business should be young, and if they’re not, then they’re not worthy.

Today, we have children later in life than our parents did. We are having children in our late 30s and early 40s. That’s the new normal. 30 is the new 20, 40 is the new 30, 50 is the new 40. But then, past that, even some men feel like society is judging them based on age and not on their career accomplishments.

One of the reasons for this magazine, one of our missions, is to showcase women, just as we are, throughout our lives, gray hair, wrinkles, hormonal changes and all. Some will choose to dye their hair. Some will choose to embrace themselves as they are, natural and beautiful, without chemicals added to our hair every 4 weeks.

What I’d like us to focus on instead of age, is flexibility. Flexibility in thought, mind and body. That’s what will keep us young and “alive” and thriving as humans in a society that is growing increasingly more rigid and stuck in unhealthy ways of thinking.

That being said, we’d like to welcome you to our tribe, young and young at heart, dyed hair or natural, male, female or non-binary, black, white, and all the beautiful rainbow colors in between. We’re all one, and we all make up this beautiful, if sometimes messed up, society of ours. Let’s make it better, together.

Yours, with love and respect,
Monica Antohi

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